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Monday - May 28, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Seasonal Tasks
Title: When to prune Texas betony (Stachys coccinea)
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I bought Texas Betony plants several years ago at Wildflower Days. They are thriving, but a bit leggy. Somewhere I read that they should be cut back several times during the year. Now I can't find the article. Please tell me about pruning for continuous blooms and fuller plants. Many thanks.

ANSWER:

Stachys coccinea (scarlet hedgenettle) is, as you know, a lovely perennial, blooming Spring, Summer and Fall and a great attracter of hummingbirds, with the flame red tubular blooms. The first thought on the legginess of your plants is that they may not be getting quite enough sun. Although Texas Betony is generally regarded as a "Sun to Part Shade" plant, the question is "How much shade is it getting?" The phrase "Sun to Part Shade" tends to mean it needs sun but can tolerate some shade. When the shade last too many of the daylight hours, the plant will adapt by growing longer and, unfortunately, weaker stems in its search for more sunlight. What sometimes happens is that a gardener plants a group of plants, maybe even a small tree or some shrubs, in an area according to their light needs. However, as time goes by, the shrubs and/or trees may grow taller than the two to three feet ordinarily reached by Texas Betony, and begin to shade out the plant more than the original intent. And, of course, at different seasons of the year, more or less sunlight may fall on the plant than was allowed for in the original siting. If this seems to be your problem, removing or trimming some of the larger plants that are shading out the Texas Betony may be one solution. Another, of course, is to move the plants themselves to a sunnier location. It certainly won't hurt the plant to have some trimming. Moderate trimming of faded flowers, also referred to as "deadheading" is good for most perennials, and may result in additional flowering. You could certainly try that, but if the stems continue to be leggy and appear weak, then getting some additional light may be your best bet.

 

From the Image Gallery


Scarlet betony
Stachys coccinea

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