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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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Monday - November 09, 2009

From: Pearland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with non-native cuphea in Pearland TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have about 8 Bat Face Cupheas and I am having trouble with them. First, instead of mounding 360 degrees, the branches all grow forward (they do bloom well). They're in full sun, about 3 feet out from a wall. What could be causing this? Second, I live very near Houston, when and how should I trim them?

ANSWER:

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are dedicated to the care, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Cuphea llavea, bat-faced cuphea, is native to Mexico, which we do not at present include in our North American Native Plant Database. From Magnolia Gardens, here is some more information on Cuphea llavea.

Since we don't have any information on this plant in our database, we'll try to make some suggestions that might help. First, this is an annual, so trimming it back in the Fall will not be necessary. If it has seeded out, or you have harvested seeds to plant in the Spring, you will have more plants next year. As for growing all in one direction, this is usually the result of not enough sun, and the plants will reach toward the sun. You say it is in full sun, but we regard "full sun" as 6 or more hours of sunlight daily. If other plants or your house are casting shade on the plant during some of that 6 hours, that could be what is causing the problem. 

 

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