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

Thursday - January 17, 2008

From: Bulverde, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Seasonal Tasks, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Trimming native salvias in January
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have heard you can trim Hot Lips, Raspberry and other salvias back severely in January, to about six inches from the ground. Is this correct?

ANSWER:

You are correct. Most native perennials that are not evergreen will profit from having a good trim back in mid-winter. It's a good idea to leave about six inches, so when new growth starts coming up from the roots, you won't think it's an early emerging weed and yank it out. It's also a good idea to keep litter, dead leaves, etc. cleaned away from the bases of your perennials to cut down on the possibility of harmful insect, disease or mildew being harbored in there. And, if you're feeling really industrious, you could always put some nice bark mulch or good compost on the ground around the perennials. Most of the fluids and vitality of the plant have gone down into the root to winter over, with the ground itself helping to keep it warm. Luckily for us, the ground does not freeze in Texas, and with the wintertime care, you will have earlier starts with healthy plants ready to begin blooming.

Some of the red sages, from which the named varieties are probably derived, are Salvia coccinea (blood sage), Salvia greggii (autumn sage), and Salvia roemeriana (cedar sage). Other salvias in blues are Salvia azurea (azure blue sage), and Salvia farinacea (mealycup sage). All these are not only native to North America but are found in Texas, and are excellent choices for your garden.

 


Salvia coccinea

Salvia greggii

Salvia roemeriana

Salvia azurea

Salvia farinacea

 

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Trimming live oaks in Mamou LA
August 24, 2009 - We have 3 large Live Oak trees in our yard. The problem we are having is when we trim a branch off so we can walk under the branch, the whole branch dies back. Is there a certain way to trim the limbs...
view the full question and answer

Failure of Bald Cypress to fully leaf out
April 14, 2008 - My family just moved to a house in Burnet County, about 7 miles south of Bertram, close to the Balcones Canyonlands NWR, with very rocky limestone soil. We bought several trees last fall, including a ...
view the full question and answer

Arrows and Hunting Dogs in Kentucky
December 09, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants--Is it normal for our arrowwood viburnum to give off a musky odour in the late fall? The smell reminds me of a wet hunting dog.
view the full question and answer

Cold damage to Texas wild olive tree in San Antonio
May 02, 2010 - I have a Texas Olive tree that was unprotected from the 2010 cold winter here in San Antonio, TX. It is the end of April and there is no sign of growth on any of the branches. If the tree is still a...
view the full question and answer

Cutting back a Rhododendron in Maryland
June 17, 2015 - I have a planting of six shrubs across the front of my house (alternating azalea & rhododendron). All have died except for one huge rhody & a small azalea next to it. Can I cut the huge rhody back to ...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center