Rent Shop 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

Tuesday - September 14, 2010

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Annual plants for weed control in Pflugerville,TX?
Answered by: Leslie Uppinghouse and Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can you suggest an annual or summer-dormant plant to mix with Dalea frutescens? The object is to discourage the spring-emerging weeds that precede the leafing out of the Dalea, so it should finish blooming and die or go dormant before late spring.

ANSWER:

First, we will have to say that we may not be able to give you the answer you are seeking. There is a good saying that we will use here. " There is no such plant as a weed, just a plant in the wrong place."  The best way to keep a plant from growing in an area is to dig it out. 

Always remove weeds when the soil is moist. It is a lot easier to get all of the plant and root matter out with loose soil.

Pay attention to what type of weed you find when removing. If you find the offending weed is spreading by root runners or rhizomes you will need to make sure that you are removing both plant matter and any underground roots or rhizomes. Once the roots are removed, a watchful eye should catch any new weeds before they have a chance to spread too much underground.

If you find that the roots are shallow and seem to not be spreading underground don't celebrate yet as this more likely is a weed that spreads by frequent seeding. For these you will also want to make sure to get out all of the plant matter and root. With diligent cultivation you should be able to control seedlings that propagated from seed left behind in the ground. Even if you remove the weed before it has a chance to seed (which you should), they will still come back from seeds that have lain dormant in the earth, or transported in by wind, birds and animals. Adding mulch to this process will help as the mulch will keep light from the underground seed, hindering its growth.  

If using mulch be careful that you do not have mulch along the base of the Dalea. Dalea frutescens is a woody shrub that will struggle if the soil or base remains moist. If you use wood mulch double check your mulch to make sure that it is drying out between rains. If not, limit the depth of the mulch as much as you can while still keeping enough to block out the sunlight for the weed seeds below the surface. If it suits the look of your garden you might want to consider using a layer of decomposed granite as a mulch instead of wood.

If you still are looking for annuals to add to the space take a look at Sally and Andy Wasowski's book Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region. Chapter four is titled Annuals, Biennials, and Short-Lived Perennials.

Bulbs in that area might also be a nice option as a companion for the Dalea. Scott Ogden's book Garden Bulbs for the South might give you some ideas. For both books, see Bibliography below.

 


Dalea frutescens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

More Planting Questions

Prairie wattle for woodland area in Austin
November 29, 2009 - Can prairie wattle be grown in a woodland area? It would get part shade, with full sun for at least half a day. The soil is a bit rocky; location is Austin.
view the full question and answer

Live oak wobbling in the ground from Austin
May 02, 2012 - I have a live oak that was not planted firmly in the ground by the subdivision builder's landscapers. The entire tree is wobbly to the touch and it has come close to dying as result of windy condit...
view the full question and answer

Growing conditions for Giant Coneflower from San Antonio
August 09, 2013 - Rudbeckia maxima is considered to be a perennial plant for the sun but I have had a difficult time maintaining it in a pot in full sun before attempting to plant. Do you feel that it will survive and...
view the full question and answer

Live oak leaves turning yellow after planting in Houston
December 19, 2011 - We bought a 65 gallon live oak in early October, and have been watering fairly heavily three days a week. It seemed OK, then all of a sudden lots of the leaves are turning yellow. Is it getting too ...
view the full question and answer

Failure to come up of blackeyed susans in Lancaster PA
June 28, 2009 - My blackeyed susans have been blooming for ten years. All of a sudden this year they didn't come up at all..why?
view the full question and answer

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