Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Friday - April 16, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Transplants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Damaged newly planted Gaura in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello yet again! This past Friday we attended the plant sale where we got lots of goodies to start a new bed. The plants were all planted on Sunday. All of them are doing fine, even beginning to produce new blooms in some cases, except for the Gaura Lindenheimeri. It was completely fine last night, then this morning (about 12 hours after I had last looked at it) I went out to find it darkened and shriveled and no longer upright. It was a gallon plant. I, of course, immediately triple checked the sun and soil needs and nothing seems amiss there. But, what on earth would cause it to have such a radical change in health so quickly?! I poked around for possible nearby snails or other critters, but did not find any. Do you know of any common, or even uncommon, causes of a sudden change in a newly planted plant?

ANSWER:

Well, everybody here is baffled, too. Our Nursery and Gardens staff and volunteers are very particular about the conditions of the plants that are put on sale in our semi-annual Plant Sale. Poison pellets are never inserted into the soil just to give customers a surprise. We have two theories. The first is that we know the Gaura does not like being transplanted. It has a long carrot-like taproot which permits the plant to survive drought. It's possible that root got broken in the process. Another possibility, although kind of remote, is that a too-generous dose of fertilizer into the hole when the plant was put in the ground might have shocked the roots a bit. Ordinarily, we recommend no fertilizer at all for native plants in their own territory, as they are already acclimated to the soils there. 

And speaking of remote possibilities, from the first we thought of animal damage; that is, a  dog or cat making a pit stop there.

From Conditions Comments in Native Plant Database:

"Open vase-shaped plant, branches arching in many directions. Leaf color is dark green in summer, and red, gold or purple in the fall. The flower, white fading pink, has only a few flowers open at a time with new ones opening as stalks grow throughout most. Flowers open in early morning. Tolerant of high heat. Flower fragrance has sometimes been compared to cat urine." 

We have absolutely no proof that is what happened, but it's a possibility that some other cat or dog came around to deposit their own scent, saying, in effect: "So, there!"

Having tap-danced all around your problem, we suggest you treat this as transplant shock. Trim off the  damaged upper area, as much as 1/4 to 1/3 of the upper parts of the plant. No more fertilizer and hopefully it will come back and do fine. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Gaura lindheimeri

Gaura lindheimeri

Gaura lindheimeri

Gaura lindheimeri

 

 

 

More Transplants Questions

Texas Pistachio trees dropping leaves in Austin
June 09, 2010 - I have several Texas Pistachio that are about 13 years old. Despite good rainfall in Travis county this year, they seem to be losing most of their new leaf growth now in early June. Leaves are simpl...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting yaupon (Ilex vomitoria) trees, concern about cultivars
February 06, 2008 - I would like to place some yaupon in the perimeter areas of my yard. I own other rural property that has an abundance of yaupon and was considering trying to transplant some small bushes. Is yaupon ...
view the full question and answer

Privacy plantings in Texas
August 16, 2008 - Our home currently has a 4' chain fence. We are a family of 7 with younger aged children and are looking for more privacy. In lieu of a replacement fence, what would you recommend planting to provi...
view the full question and answer

Mystic Spires salvia in transplant shock
July 04, 2008 - Hello. I live in Taylor, Tx. Just outside Austin, Texas. I recently planted mystic spires. One gallons and will receive the hot afternoon sun. All the research says they can tolerate this location. Th...
view the full question and answer

Planting from pots in summer in Austin
July 01, 2009 - It's the last week in June and temperatures are going to be at 100 or more all week. I've some plants that I'm wondering about transplanting to an exposed site in this heat: muhlenbergeria lindheim...
view the full question and answer

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