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
7 ratings

Sunday - October 06, 2013

From: Edison, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: General Botany
Title: Why plants grow in very hot or very cold areas from Edison NJ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Why can some plants grow where very cold or very hot?

ANSWER:

This short question goes right to the root of the reason the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, recommends plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which those plants are grown.

Every living thing, plants or animals, must learn to live with the conditions in which they find themselves. Animals can, within limits, move but plants cannot. The plants that survive very cold or hot or dry or wet conditions are the ones that stay alive and, over time, they develop techniques so they can continue to survive. Take a plant adapted over thousands of years from somewhere like, say, Edison NJ and try to make it grow in the Texas sun and days and days of over 100 degree weather, and that plant will probably wither away and die. More importantly, it will not survive to make seeds to propagate itself. The Prime Directive for every livng organism is to make more of itself; that is, to reproduce. If a particular organism is unable to reproduce itself, it will quickly disappear from that location.

Survival techniques for plants include getting enough water (succulents need very little, ferns need a lot), the right amount of sunshine for photosynthesis to occur, the right soils - in fertile, wooded areas soils tend to be acidic. In dry hot rocky desert, the soils are usually alkaline.

So, short answer - plants live where the CAN, and continue to develop the attributes to help them live where they ARE, but this is a slow process. Wherever you are, if you want plants to live where you are, look around and see what plants are already there and doing well.

 

More General Botany Questions

Why will my Butternut trees not produce nuts in Tennessee?
May 06, 2009 - I have 2 butternut trees planted about 20 ft from each other. I see the long blossoms on each tree but I have not gotten any nuts from either tree. I do not know if I have a male and female or if th...
view the full question and answer

Inducing flowering out of season
June 22, 2007 - We are currently conducting research on insect transmission of a plant virus to flowering weeds. Is there a process to trick biennials into flowering in their first year?
view the full question and answer

Compare Natives to Lawn for Carbon Footprint Benefits in Durham, New Hampshire
September 22, 2010 - Are there carbon sequestration rate tables for turf (lawn) and bushes, shrubs, trees? I want to compare the carbon footprint benefit of lawn versus the same area put into native plantings.
view the full question and answer

Why do some flowers open during the day and close at night?
April 08, 2009 - My son is doing a science fair project on the California Poppies. We are trying to find the definitive answer on why the flowers open during the day and close at night.
view the full question and answer

Difference between Convallaria majalis and Convallaria majuscula
May 17, 2012 - How do you tell the difference in the native convallaria from the European species?
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center