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
1 rating

Monday - March 15, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native bulbine damaged by freeze
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Our Texas bulbine were hit hard this year. The tops are dead, not sure if any roots are still alive. Should we trim them back to the dirt; if roots are still alive, will they emerge again via root system?

ANSWER:

You have been led along by a nursery trade name for a plant that infers a plant is native to Texas when, in fact, it is not. "Texas bulbine" is actually Bulbine frutescens, Orange African Bulbine, native to (where else?) South Africa. Since at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are only conversant in plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown, this plant is out of our expertise. We can tell you that it is hardy from USDA Zones 9 to 11, while Austin in is Zone 8a. This is probably not enough of a spread to make that much difference in survival chances,  but we had such sudden, hard freezes that marginal plants were hurt. We would suggest trimming them back to about 6 inches, water but don't fertilize, and wait. If they are well-established, they could come back up from their roots. See this article from the Pima County (AZ) Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners on Bulbine frutescens for more information.
 

More Non-Natives Questions

Leaves on non-native Chinese pistashe tree yellowing in San Antonio TX
August 11, 2010 - My chinese pistashe tree leaves are turning yellow. The tree is about 25 years old. the last time it did this I applied some iron granules into the ground around it. However I have forgotten how mu...
view the full question and answer

Growing Avocados in South Texas
April 24, 2015 - What types of avocados can be grown in South Texas?
view the full question and answer

Survival of non-native Cape Plumbago in Delaware
October 18, 2008 - I have a cape plumbago shrub growing in a large pot outdoors - but we are in Delaware - where it won't apparently survive the winter. How can I keep my plumbago safe over the winter?
view the full question and answer

Mites in soil of house plants
June 25, 2008 - Hi there! I recently noticed tiny silver mites in the soil of my plants that I only notice after watering. These plants are indoors in on a window ledge (a dwarf palm, aloe plant and Hawaiian Scheffle...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native King Sago Palm
April 13, 2009 - My king sago palm has not branched out in over a year. I think it needs to be fertilized. What can I do?
view the full question and answer

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