En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - May 03, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Pruning, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Lilies not blooming from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Last December 8, you published a letter in the Statesman that I had written to you regarding Rain Lilies, Oxblood Lilies, and Copper Lilies. The were sprouting in my garage in a bag. You recommended planting them right away. I did that and they immediately sent up vigorous greenery. The greenery remains. but they never flowered. They are now looking straggly! Should I expect them to bloom this year? I suppose that I shouldn't trim back the leaves, or can I?

ANSWER:

This is the previous answer we believe you are referring to. Actually, we publish only to our own Mr. Smarty Plants website. The Austin Statesman sometimes publishes some of our answers, but we don't ordinarily even know about it until we get questions from readers.

As the writer of the previous answer pointed out, the Oxblood Lily is native to Argentina and therefore falls out of our area of expertise. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow naturally. From Masters of Horticulture, here is an article on Oxblood Lilies which may explain their failure to bloom, including the fact that they bloom in the Fall.

If you follow this link to our website on Habranthus tubispathus (Copper lily) , you will find these Growing Conditions:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Various somewhat moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Flowers after the rains of late summer and fall. Very showy when planted in groups where flowers make a mass of color after rains."

Note that they need sun (6 hours or more of sun a day) and bloom in the Fall, after it rains. Or perhaps we should say if it rains.

Here are the Growing Conditions for Cooperia pedunculata (Hill country rain lily):

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Clay. Clay Loam. Medium Loam. Sandy Loam. Limestone-based. Caliche type.
Conditions Comments: These bulbs produce blue-green grass like leaves with slightly fragrant, shimmering flowers, mainly in spring, that have a color that evolves over two days from white to silky light pink. Rain lilies make for nice surprises after a rain and combine well with plants that have short foliage, such as cardinal feather and silver ponyfoot. In flower beds, meadows, and pots, these rain lilies grow easily from bulbs. The flowers will last a little longer in shade. Plant 8 inches deep for more flowers. Plant 4 inch/shallow to increase the bulbs. This species typically blooms in the Spring, while C. drummondii blooms in the Fall."

This is also a plant that needs rain to bloom. Both the native plants are perennial and ordinarily we don't expect a perennial to bloom until its second year after planting. There are apparently different depths at which to plant these bulbs for best results, and, again, they need RAIN. Don't we all?

You will notice that both need moist soils, so perhap they are straggly from dry soils. As for trimming them back, we do usually recommend trimming back perennials in the Fall, but we would certainly wait until they have bloomed to do so. Plants need to bloom in order to reproduce themselves, and need the leaves to manufacture food for the energy to bloom.

Prescription: Patience and perhaps a little rain dance.

 

From the Image Gallery


Prairie lily
Cooperia pedunculata

Copper lily
Habranthus tubispathus

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Native moss to fill in between flagstones
April 21, 2008 - I live in Houston and have a long, narrow flagstone path that runs along the east side of the house. I am looking for a native moss that can fill in between the flagstones and will tolerate morning su...
view the full question and answer

Problems with sunflowers in Florida
November 03, 2006 - I planted sunflowers on the west side of my house where I have previously planted them and they grew wonderfully. These new ones, however, seem to be dying, (less than 2 weeks). I bought the plants at...
view the full question and answer

Soils for spiderwort from Round Rock TX
August 08, 2013 - We have spiderworts growing naturally in our backyard. We put a large circle around them them with limestone rock (as our beds have) to make their own bed as they clumped in one area. What kind of s...
view the full question and answer

General information on native Fendlers sandwort (Arenaria fendeleri)
December 19, 2005 - I am trying to locate any general information on Fendler's Sandwort. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
view the full question and answer

Strappy leaves on rudbeckias from Houston
October 31, 2013 - My Rudbeckias keep sending up odd shoots with strappy leaves on them. Should these be cut off? What is their purpose?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center