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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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Tuesday - August 03, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Will non-native gazania bloom in winter?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am quite familiar with Gazania and l-o-v-e it as a summer plant. My question is: while I know it may/will survive the winters here, will it actually be blooming during the coldest months here in Austin? I work in west-ish Austin and there is a proposal on the table to use Gazania "Kiss Orange Flame" as our winter bedding plants, rather than pansies. I am fairly sure they will not bloom all winter because we are on the edge of their "perennial-status zone" and the person that signs my paycheck wants me to confirm my suspicions. Can you enlighten me? Do you know if they will bloom all winter here in Austin? Thanks,

ANSWER:

Frankly, we have two problems with recommending Gazania rigens for Austin. The first problem is that it is not a native to North America, including Texas , but to Africa. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we recommend only native plants. The other problem is that we saw no indication that they would bloom all winter. There are very few plants that even pretend to bloom year round. Since the gazania is an annual, it has to allow time in its bloom cycles for blooms, followed by seeds, and then it usually dies. As you pointed out, this plant is only hardy to Zone 8b, south of Austin, and loves hot, dry summers, which we won't be having in January. For more information, from Old Fashioned Living, here is a site Growing Bold and Brilliant Gazanias.

As far as that is concerned, pansies are non-native also, and the ones you buy in the Fall have probably been propagated in greenhouses, and will certainly die if they are exposed to very cold weather and/or snow, etc.  And under no circumstances would Mr. Smarty Plants ever recommend that anything, native or non-native, would bloom at a certain time or stay in bloom under certain conditions. Sorry.

 

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