En EspaŅol

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
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
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

Late winter pruning of native Texas Sage
January 27, 2005 - I have several Texas Sage bushes that have started to get very woody and have growth only on the top. This seems to have led to a definite listing to one side. Should I trim these to the ground or...
view the full question and answer

Hail damage to Cenizo in Austin
August 03, 2009 - We have some Texas sage Silverado. After the latest hail, they look very sad. If about the half of plant is OK and the other half looks dried/dead?, should we prune the dried half? Are they ever comin...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Copper Plants
February 06, 2013 - I planted two beautiful copper plants in my front beds. They went wild during the fall, but got so leggy that I cut them back nearly to the ground, which I believe was a mistake. Will they come back o...
view the full question and answer

Oak roots damaged by ax from Austin
July 03, 2013 - Hello. I am attempting to create my own tiny copy of the Wildflower Center within my yard. I'm using all native, drought tolerant plants. My front yard is full of live oaks. I used a sod cutter la...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Citrus Suckers
October 06, 2014 - Mr. Smarty Plants, you are the only person that has "not" insisted that the little balls on Satsuma and lemon trees were clumps of bugs. They are surely what you described in the answer to my previo...
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