En Español

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
1 rating

Friday - August 08, 2014

From: Catasauqua, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives, Planting, Shrubs
Title: Sages in Catasauqua, PA
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I want to buy a Texas Sage tree but I live in PA. Can I bring the tree indoors during winter?

ANSWER:

  Well – Of course you can bring the tree indoors for the winter [assuming you plant it in a pot!].  The question I’m concerned about is will the tree thrive in your area of Pennsylvania in general.   The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes.  For where you live - - A Texas Sage is most certainly not native, so from our point of view you will be fighting a serious uphill battle trying to keep it alive.

  When you say Texas Sage, it could be either Salvia texana (Texas sage) or Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo).  In either case, they are native only to the Southwest.   They have very similar comments as to growing conditions, the following is an edited down version of this.

GROWING CONDITIONS

Water Use: Low 
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade 
Soil Moisture: Dry 
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Found in limestone soils of consistencies ranging from sandy to clay and rocky caliche 
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2) 
Conditions Comments: According to legend, cenizo tends to bloom in conjunction with rainfall. Cenizo is easy to grow so long as it has good drainage. Though this species is the most irrigation-tolerant of the genus, it is susceptible to cotton root rot if soil does not have good drainage and remains moist. Humidity and high night temperatures are lethal. Cenizos should not be fertilized or over-watered. Drought- and heat-tolerant. During very cold winters, may lose a few leaves. 

This is my concern, the Sage needs full Texas sun, dry alkaline soil, and very little water.  In essence, you would need to provide the Texas climate in Catasauqua,  PA.

  Now, I don't know why you called the Texas Sage, but as a stawart supporter of natives I would like to suggest some natives that might do better in Pennsylvania.   Perhaps instead consider  Salvia azurea (Pitcher sage),  Artemisia frigida (Prairie sagewort)Salvia lyrata (Lyreleaf sage), or Artemisia ludoviciana (Louisiana artemisia). These  are sages that are native in the Mid-Atlantic. These would be much better choices that you can expect to thrive in Pennsylvania.  In fact, Artemisia frigida (Prairie sagewort) grows well into Canada and Alaska. 

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas sage
Salvia texana

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Texas sage
Salvia texana

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Pitcher sage
Salvia azurea

Prairie sagewort
Artemisia frigida

Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Louisiana artemisia
Artemisia ludoviciana

More Shrubs Questions

Blooming of native swamp azalea in New York
July 04, 2006 - I have a native swamp azalea, very healthy, but it has never bloomed. Do you know why or how I could get it to bloom?
view the full question and answer

Hedgerow to block sounds and scenes of traffic
May 01, 2011 - What would make the best year round hedgerow to block the sight and sounds of traffic 60 feet from my house?
view the full question and answer

Acidity of soil for blueberry plants
May 11, 2007 - We have 8 blueberry plants and we have just taken out several Juniper shrubs. How will this effect the acidity of the soil for the blueberries? Do we need to add more acidity? We heard that the junipe...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a bank too steep to mow
June 24, 2009 - Like the inquiry made in late June of 2008, mine involves a bank that is too steep to mow. However, ours is facing south. I am looking for a native grass, plant or groundcover. Any suggestions? ...
view the full question and answer

Moisture as trigger for Cenizo bloom
July 17, 2006 - Does the cenizo bloom because it has had water on its leaves and stems?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center