Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Wednesday - October 05, 2011

From: Llano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Transplants, Trees
Title: Planting Anacacho orchid tree in Llano, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Re Bauhinia lunarioides: I'm trying to pick a good site in Llano Co for a 5 gal tree I received as a gift. Your plant database says part shade. The arid zone trees publication you reference in a Smarty Plants answer about this plant says full sun. I can supply a south-facing stone wall - protection from winter winds, as recommended, but it would have full sun there except for about a month of summer. Will it get fried? Also, our soil is granite (acidic) rather than limestone in Llano Co. Will it hate that?

ANSWER:

This USDA Plant Profile map on  Bauhinia lunarioides (Anacacho orchid tree) does, indeed, show that it grows natively somewhat south and west of Llano County. On the other hand, on our Native Plant Database page on this tree, we found this information:

"Native Habitat: Canyons & arroyos in limestone hills. Known only from canyons and arroyos in limestone hills in Kinney, Presidio, and Gillespie or Llano counties. Well-drained sand, loam, limestone." We didn't find the previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer to which you referred, but several other websites we looked at specified full sun, reflected sun or part shade.

Since you already have the plant, and since there seems to be more danger of frost damage than of too much sun, we would suggest you go ahead and use your described area. We consider part shade to be 2 to 6 hours of sun a day, so if there are a few hours of shade in the area, the tree should be all right.

As with all desert plants, the most important thing to consider about this plant is good drainage. In Texas, we recommend that woody plants not be put in the ground until cooler weather, to help prevent transplant shock. Since you already have your plant, we hope you are giving it some shade every day, and watering in a well draining pot. Those black plastic nursery pots in the sun can really heat up the soil and roots inside! It is best to prepare the hole ahead of the actual planting, add a good mix of compost to the resident soil to help with drainage and assist the tiny hair-like rootlets that access nutrients and water in the soil for the whole plant. When you remove the tree from its pot, check to make sure the roots are not wrapped around, threatening to strangle the tree. Some fairly vicious root clipping may be required before the tree goes into the ground, so the roots will start growing outward again. After it is in the ground, water by sticking a hose down in that nice soft soil you have made, and let the hose dribble for half an hour or so. As long as we continue to get no rain, this should be repeated weekly. No fertilizer. This plant does not particularly like fertilizer anyway, and it can shock those newly sprouting roots.

 

From the Image Gallery


Anacacho orchid tree
Bauhinia lunarioides

Anacacho orchid tree
Bauhinia lunarioides

Anacacho orchid tree
Bauhinia lunarioides

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Advisability of landscape cloth in native gardens
July 18, 2007 - Is the use of landscape cloth healthy or unhealthy in native gardens?
view the full question and answer

Esperanza failing to bloom in Odessa TX
September 01, 2009 - I have 3 Esperanza plants that have not bloomed this spring/summer. I live in Odessa, TX. We had about 5 inches of rain in July in one week (very unusual), but they have not bloomed-before or after. ...
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

Problems with Eves necklacepods (Styphnolobium affine)
March 25, 2008 - Mr. S-P, I urgently need your advice regarding two Eve's necklacepods that appear to be dying. They are in two completely different areas of my yard. One began leafing out and then the leaves sh...
view the full question and answer

Plants for small shady area with clay soil
August 09, 2011 - Many people have space between the sidewalk and the street in front of their homes. In that space in front of our house is a growing maple that provides a lot of shade. The space is very dry, with...
view the full question and answer

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