Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - November 12, 2008

From: Floresville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Propagation, Seeds and Seeding, Transplants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Transplanting Mexican bonebract in Floresville, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My kids and I finally identified a small plant that we found growing in our pasture. There was only one and it is lovely. It is the Mexican Bonebract. What I am interested in finding out is how to transplant it. It is the only one we have seen on our entire 40 acres and the cows keep pushing it up. We really want to save it. How would we go about taking care of it and relocating it?

ANSWER:

Sclerocarpus uniserialis (Mexican bonebract) would not ordinarily be considered a candidate for transplanting, because it is an annual and you would expect to propagate it by the natural dropping of seeds. However, in your situation, where you have only the one, and the cattle are after it, you will be better off moving it. It blooms from August to January, so you would consider it a winter annual. The best plan would be to transplant it now, giving it time to recover, re-bloom, and seed in its new location. 

First, prepare a hole, estimating how big a soil ball you can take out of the ground with your plant in it. If the plant is presently growing in full sun, transplant it to a similar light exposure area, and so forth. Since this plant is growing voluntarily in your natural soil, you probably shouldn't worry too much about soil amendment, but it never hurts to work some compost into a hole for a new plant.  Not only does this improve drainage, always important, but will add some nutrients for the newly arrived plant. The roots of an annual are not going to be as deep and as wide as those of a perennial, so just stick a sharp shovel into the dirt, perhaps around the outer edge (or "dripline") of the plant, get a shovel sized distance down, and go all the way around. Then, lift and loosen the plant, keeping as much of the soil on the roots as you can manage and move into its new hole. Place it so that the soil at the base of the plant is on the same level as the soil at the new location. Put the extra dirt back in around the roots. Stick a hose into the hole, and let it dribble gently until water comes to the surface. Do this about every other day, unless you are getting pretty regular rain. Don't fertilize, other than whatever nutrients are in the compost. A transplanted plant is a plant in shock, and you should never fertilize a stressed plant. Hopefully, it will not even wilt, or drop blooms, but if it does, just nip off the affected areas and keep treating it with water dribbles. You should be able to either let it normally reseed or wait until the seeds are dry on the plant and harvest them yourself. And keep an eye out on the area in your pasture where you found it. Next Spring, when new plants are sprouting, you may find some children of your "one" plant popping up, from seeds it dropped there this Fall. 


Sclerocarpus uniserialis

Sclerocarpus uniserialis

Sclerocarpus uniserialis

Sclerocarpus uniserialis

 

 

 

More Transplants Questions

Transplanting bamboo
July 29, 2008 - To transplant bamboo from one place to another, do you dig the plant up or do you get a cutting, put it in water and then root the plant?
view the full question and answer

Growing Sophora gypsophila from seed
April 23, 2008 - Sophora gypsophila B.L. Turner & Powell Do you have any information on growing this small tree from seed? I have a few seeds and would like to try. What conditions break seed dormancy? I have grown ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Banana Shrub from Houston
May 01, 2014 - My 7' beloved Banana Shrub (magnolia) has white dots on top of the leaves and nasty black stuff covering the backside of the leaves. The plant is dropping leaves. What can I do to save it? I has bee...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a bald cypress from Houston
December 10, 2012 - We would like to transplant a bald cypress from front yard to back. It is about 10 ft tall, 3" trunk diameter, 2-1/2 years old and in good health. Any idea how large the root ball might need to be du...
view the full question and answer

Time to transplant an Eastern Redbud in Pearland, TX
November 17, 2010 - When is the best time in the fall to transplant an Eastern Redbud tree in Pearland, TX? We have one approximately 6 feet tall in the back yard and want to move it to the front ASAP.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.