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

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Wednesday - May 23, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Container Gardens
Title: Planting plumereia and bird of paradise palm outside in Austin
Answered by: Damon Waitt

QUESTION:

I have a plumeria and a bird of paradise palm in pots that I want to place in the ground. I've seen plumeria's planted in the ground at a house leading to Bryan College Station that seem to have been planted for awhile. I live in Austin, TX and would love to plant these two in my backyard. I really do not want to hear "No you cannot", but how to help it survive the winter. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

One reason Mr. Smarty Plants is all about promoting the conservation and use of native plants is that they come pre-adapted to survive in their native environment. Here is what you would have to do to grow these non-native tropicals in Texas.

When temperatures dip into the low 40's Plumerias may be stored in their containers or uprooted carefully trying to take as much root as possible and stored over winter in a garage where temperatures are kept above freezing. As soon as temperatures rise outdoors they can be brought out and planted again.

Bird-of-paradise (Strelitzia reginae) will tolerate temperatures as low as 24°F for a short time. However, temperatures at freezing or below may damage developing flower buds and flowers. There is always a chance of losing a season of blooms during a severe winter. You can ensure blooms every year by moving them indoors when freezing temperatures are expected.

 

 

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