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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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Saturday - May 28, 2011

From: Clermont, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Growing Mountain Laurel in Georgia
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

While in Texas a few months ago I saw your beautiful Sophora Secundiflora blooming and decided to bring one home to Gainesville, GA and try my luck. I have not planted it yet and it is doing well in its container. What suggestions do you have for planting it in my yard? We have a lot of clay. Do you have any other suggestions on how to keep this plant alive? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is very sad that you have taken our beautiful mountain laurel so far from its native habitat. Please return it back home!

Our mission at the Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes.   As Lady Bird Johnson said, native plants "give us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours, I want Texas to look like Texas and Vermont to look like Vermont and every state to look like itself."

I agree that Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) is beautiful.  However it is native to only a limited area of Texas and New Mexico.  In it's National Plant Information Network record [the link above] there is a description of its preferred growing conditions.  The soil component is listed as "Dry, rocky, well-drained, preferably calcareous soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay". A clay soil can be OK - but is it well drained?  If not, it may be safer in it's pot! 

Other than that, with my teeth gritted a bit,  I recommend that you check all of the growing conditions listed in that record.  That will give you the best shot at keeping the Mountain Laurel healthy.

                   
Sophora secundiflora
          Sophora secundiflora                Sophora secundiflora

 

 

 

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