En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Why do conifers kill Texas hummingbird sage from Gray GA

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - April 15, 2014

From: Gray, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Problem Plants, Herbs/Forbs, Trees
Title: Why do conifers kill Texas hummingbird sage from Gray GA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Why do conifers kill Texas hummingbird sage?

ANSWER:

First, we need to establish some plant identities. We found several websites referring to a salvia as Texas Hummingbird Sage, or Texas Sage or Hummingbird Sage; for instance, this one from Fine Gardening, this one from Seeds of Change or from Dave's Garden,  all of which refer to the plant as Salvia coccinea, which we find in our Native Plant Database as Salvia coccinea (Scarlet sage). There is also a plant in our database referred to as Salvia spathacea (Hummingbird sage). According to this USDA Plant Profile Map, Salvia spathacea is endemic to California; i.e., growing nowhere else in North America. When we check the Plant Profile Map on Salvia coccinea, we find that, while it does grow in a few places in Georgia, it is not reported as growing in Jones County, in Central Georgia.

We are going to put all this confusion down to creative trade names, and say that the best chance for a salvia growing in Georgia being the one you have purchased as Salvia coccinea (Scarlet sage). In this research, we found no indication of a conifer being poisonous to any sage, so let's look a little further.

Growing Conditions for Salvia spathacea (Hummingbird sage):

"Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Various mesic to slightly moist soils.
Conditions Comments: This perennial is easy to grow and deer proof."

Growing Conditions for Salvia coccinea (Scarlet sage):

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil Description: Caliche type, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay
Conditions Comments: Scarlet sage reseeds easily and will grow in the shade. It has pungent foliage that makes it fairly deer resistant. Periodically trim and deadhead to keep it bushy."

From that, it does not seem that simply shade from a conifer or any other tree would have caused either salvia to die. We do know that the fallen plant material from conifers tends to be acidic, thus influencing the soil beneath them to be more acidic.

Frankly, we can't verify that conifers kill salvias. Heavy shade from a nearby large conifer, the acidity of fallen needles from a conifer or just competition between the salvia and the conifer roots could all affect the outcome. Mr. Common Sense says if you have had this problem in your garden, don't plant salvias under conifers.

 

From the Image Gallery


Scarlet sage
Salvia coccinea

Scarlet sage
Salvia coccinea

Scarlet sage
Salvia coccinea

More Trees Questions

Small green balls falling from oaks in Hunt TX
May 03, 2014 - Our live oak trees have pin-sized black and green balls falling from them (there are so may that is sounds like rain!) The balls are not associated with or fall with the catkins. Thanks for your ass...
view the full question and answer

Leaves falling early from red oaks.
October 08, 2007 - The leaves on my Texas red oaks are dropping off prematurely. This usually doesn't happen until late November/early December. I'm wondering if it has something to do with our wet summer, or if I sho...
view the full question and answer

Distance from existing structures to plant a tree in New York
March 05, 2009 - I would like to plant a large maple or birch near my suburban home. How far away from my home, garage, or any buildings should the seed be planted?
view the full question and answer

Trees native to Long Island, NY
November 06, 2010 - My question is: What are the main trees that were native to Long Island before all other trees began to be brought into Long Island?
view the full question and answer

Grafting to a cherry laurel for edible fruit in Austin
July 01, 2010 - I was the one who asked earlier about grafting to a Cherry Laurel. I will happily graft a local plum on it, say a Mexican Plum or American Plum or one of the naturalized peaches (a friend has an India...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center