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

Sunday - June 27, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Fertilizer producing leaves over flower production in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can you please list which Central Texas perennials' will favor leaf growth over flower production when fertilized? I have many in the "Grown Green" booklet and need to know which flowering plants should not be fertilized. Thank you.

ANSWER:

If the "Grow Green" booklet is the one we are thinking of, it includes plants that have adapted to Central Texas but are not necessarily native to Central Texas. One of the main arguments for using native plants is that a plant that has evolved over millennia in an area will be able to get along well without any outside intervention. Plants evolved to live in Central Texas are prepared for droughts, clay soil, high wind, heat and the insects that are also native here. Native plants do not demand fertilizer in order to survive, and some, like Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) do not like to be fertilized. Native wildflower seeds, like Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), can live in the soil for years until some rain comes along. You can check in our Native Plant Database, using either the common name or the botanical name to search for the plants in your garden and indicate Texas for the state. If they don't appear in that database, they are probably non-native. Some may be native to other parts of the country, and some may be hybrids, which takes them out of our classification of "native." If you only know your plant by some trade name selected by retailers to catch the eye, you can try Googling on that name and see what you can find out about what the plant really is. Most native plants will not keel over and die if they are fertilized, but why spend the time and money as well as adding something else that can run off into our water tables?

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Flowers for sunny and shady gardens in Cedar Hill TX
March 30, 2010 - Last year I spent way too much on flowers for my sunny and shady flower beds. They all died from the heat, even after constant watering. What flowers could I plant in sunny and shady flower beds that ...
view the full question and answer

Possible mildew on standing cypress
May 29, 2008 - My mother-in-law took some standing cypress seeds from Texas to Virginia several years ago. They have always done very well, but this year they are growing very tall, but the bottom half of the stalk...
view the full question and answer

Recovering neglected garden space from Grapevine TX
March 22, 2014 - I live in Grapevine TX (Dallas). I just moved into a house where almost the entire large backyard is covered by oak trees that shed tons of leaves throughout our mild falls/winters. The yard has not...
view the full question and answer

Care for indoor ivy from Carollton TX
January 26, 2012 - I have an indoor ivy that is on a pole. The pole is breaking, and I need to separate the ivy from the pole with the least amount of trauma to the plant. How should I do this? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Dealing with aphids on milkweed plants in Alloway, NJ.
July 11, 2012 - I planted milk weed for the Monarch butterfly. Every year it gets orange aphids that seem to suck out the juices and eventually kill the plant sooner than I like.
view the full question and answer

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