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

Monday - October 25, 2010

From: Schroon Lake , NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Cacti and Succulents, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Mulching Spring Bulbs in Upstate NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Just planted tulip bulbs for Spring. The Parks Department then put 4 inches of mulch on top. Will the tulips be able to get through and bloom come Spring? Is mulch a good winterizer for them? Indoor cactus-how often to water?

ANSWER:

Although tulips are not North American native plants and the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is "to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes" some of us here at Mr. Smarty Plants do have experience in this area. 

Your tulips will be fine.  It may take a bit longer for the soil to warm up under that thick blanket of mulch, but the shoots will eventually find their way to the surface.  That is if the squirrels don't find them before the ground freezes ... squirrels (and mice) love tulips (daffodils are poisonous).  Because tulips are one of the later spring bulbs to flower, you may find that they will not bloom for a number of years in succession. The plant requires at least six weeks for the foliage to photosynthesize in order to produce enough food for a bloom the next year.  If the weather gets hot the foliage can spoil before enough food is stored.  That is why gardeners in warmer zones usually plant tulips every year.  You are in Zone 4, so you may have great success.

As far as your cactus goes, there is no way we can advise you.  It depends on what type of cactus it is and what type of conditions you are growing it in.  You will have to watch it and act accordingly, remembering that more plants die of too much water than not enough.  Make sure the soil is dry between waterings but don't wait until the flesh loses firmness or starts to wrinkle.


 

More Non-Natives Questions

Lawn Maintenance in Colorado
March 20, 2010 - When do I begin to fertilize and water my grass in Colorado Springs? I am selling my house and want my lawn to look green?
view the full question and answer

Identification of Cryptomeria japonica for homeowners association
May 09, 2007 - Good morning. We are wondering if Cryptomeria japonica trees can fit under the term "pine like". We used the term pine like when asking for our home owners associations approval and we put in a Cr...
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming toad lily in Kentucky
April 20, 2008 - I have had a toad lily for three years and it has never bloomed. What do I need to do?
view the full question and answer

Care of potted non-native geraniums
July 26, 2009 - I live in lower Michigan (Mt. Clemens) and recently purchased 2 small, potted geraniums. They are a beautiful vibrant red in color. As the blooms wilt and turn dark, should I snip that part off the st...
view the full question and answer

Lists of native plants in Rome, Italy area
November 27, 2005 - Do you know anywhere that I can find a list of native plants in Italy, especially in the Rome area.
view the full question and answer

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