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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - June 27, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pruning, Shrubs
Title: What about the brown dots on my Silver sage?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

During the past year, the leaves on my silver sage bushes around the perimeter of the front of my house have turned yellow in places and there are tiny brown dots on virtually all of the leaves. If I shake the bushes, the leaves easily fall off. They haven't flowered in ages and look incredibly sickly. What can I do to save them? Part of one has already died and I trimmed it off, but this has spread to all my sage which are 8 years old. Everyone keeps telling me they are disease resistant, but there is something definitely wrong with them. Please help! Jody in Shady Hollow

ANSWER:

When I look for Silver Sage in our Plant Database I am referred to two species of Artemisia, A. cana, and A. filifolia, neither of which are usually used as landscape plants in this area. I'm guessing that you have Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) which is also called Texas Silver Leaf and Texas Sage, and is seen in yards throughout Austin.

Cenizo is generally described as being resistant to fungal diseases and tolerant of drought conditons, but this can be altered by environmental stress. Three important environmental factors that effect plants are light, water, and mineral nutrition. Since you say the plants have been growing for eight years, and presumably flowering, one approach is to look at what has changed in the past year. Has the amount of sunlight they receive been changed by encroachment of other shrubs or trees? Are they receiving too much water from your lawn sprinklers? What about fertilizer? The fertilizer that you might use on your lawn probably has a nitrogen: phosphorus ratio that is too high to promote flowering in Cenizo. Are they having to compete with other plants for nutrients? Getting back to the growth conditions of previous years may help your problems.

The brown dot could be one of the fungal leaf spot diseases which are inherently difficult to diagnose via email. I am going to refer you to the Travis County Extension Service's sick plants web site for advice with that problem. 

 

From the Image Gallery


Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

More Pruning Questions

Taking down a Century Plant blooming stalk from Fair Oaks Branch TX
August 09, 2013 - Our century cactus looks like it's in the final stages of blooming and I read on your site that the original plant dies. Can we go ahead and cut down the tall blooms?
view the full question and answer

Cutting back perennials in PA
July 25, 2011 - Can you pinch back echinacea in the spring to produce a shorter plant? I have some that get too tall and fall over.
view the full question and answer

Tidying up Copper Canyon Daisies in San Antonio
March 30, 2010 - We have a small bed with 4 copper canyon daisies. We cut them back in the fall but have not pruned them during growing season; as a result they become a big tangle by September. Should they be pruned ...
view the full question and answer

Trimming Butterfly Plants
February 11, 2013 - I am looking for detailed information on trimming common butterfly plants: crucita, cenizo, sweet-stem, whitebrush, Mexican trixis, skeleton-leaf goldeneye, white plumbago, turk's cap, desert lantana...
view the full question and answer

Shaping cenizo in Duncanville TX
October 02, 2009 - Our Silverado Sage, which we expected to be 4' to 5' high and wide based on the label when we purchased it about 10 years ago, is nearly 7' tall and very random in shape (not the evenly rounded sha...
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