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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.

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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.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Wednesday - July 10, 2013

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Source for two violas for Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Houston, TX. Can you tell me where I can buy viola rotundifolia and viola cucullata? I understand these are round-leaved yellow violet and marsh blue violet respectively. I stumbled on these while searching and I have fallen in love with them. And I have the perfect spot. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Viola rotundifolia (Roundleaf yellow violet) shows up on this USDA Plant Profile Map as growing naturally no nearer Texas than Tennessee.

Viola cucullata (Blue marsh violet), in this USDA Plant Profile Map also grows mostly in the eastern United States, but as close to Texas as Arkansas and Mississippi.  Let's look at some more information on each of these two plants to see why they don't appear to favor Harris County in Texas.

From the Missouri Botanical Garden, (where they do grow) on Viola cucullata:

"Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils in full shade. Prefers moist, humusy soils. Soils should not be allowed to dry out. Freely self-seeds to the point of being weedy. Performs better in cool summer climates."

So, what do you think - is Houston in a cool summer climate?

From Minnesota Wildflowers on Blue Marsh Violet. Note a box on that page with this message:

"Where to buy native seed and plants

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

Help support this site by buying seeds & plants from these vendors. Tell them we sent you!"

Don't believe Houston is in the upper midwest, either. So, we will refer you to our National Suppliers Directory. Put your town and state or just your zip code in the"Enter Search Location"  box and click GO. You will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers, and consultants in your general area. Beyond that, you might Google by the common name of each (round-leaved yellow violet or blue marsh violet) and you could find nursery advertisements; however, we are betting they are going to be from other states where growing conditions are very different.

We hate to see you spin your wheels, but from what we are seeing, we are betting that nothing you could do would induce either plant to grow in Houston. Remember, you were warned!

 

From the Image Gallery


Marsh blue violet
Viola cucullata

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