Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - July 04, 2008

From: Taylor, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Transplants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Mystic Spires salvia in transplant shock
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello. I live in Taylor, Tx. Just outside Austin, Texas. I recently planted mystic spires. One gallons and will receive the hot afternoon sun. All the research says they can tolerate this location. They have not lost their leaves, but are drooping pretty severely in the heat. Is this a result of planting in summer and that they are simply adjusting to their new home? Should I expect a more hardy appearance next year? Thank you so much.

ANSWER:

In order to talk about "Mystic Spires", we first have to talk about "Indigo Spires",  Salvia longispicata x farninacea. The "x" means it is a cross between Salvia longispicata, a native of Mexico and Salvia farinacea (mealycup sage), a native of Texas and Mexico. This was developed 40 years ago, quite by accident, by bees cross-pollinating two species of sage in Huntingdon Botanical Gardens in California. See this Floridata website Salvia "Indigo Spires". The reason we have to look at "Mystic Spires" in this way is that it is apparently a dwarf selection of "Indigo Spires." A "selection" is not a new species, but the process of choosing and breeding plants that have a different height or some other desirable characteristic. The initial information on this cross is that it should grow about 12" to 18" high and thus eliminate the tendency of the taller "Indigo Spires" to droop over when it gets too tall.

Having said all that, let's try to figure out why your new plant is not doing well. The instructions in the various sites we looked at about "Indigo Spires" indicate that it needs some good humus in the soil, especially if it is clay. In fact, one of these plants in a poorly draining clay soil will probably not survive cold weather. But that should not be what is causing your current problem. It sounds like transplant shock. It's always tough for a plant to be moved into new quarters, and doing so in the heat of summer is even harder. So, first, trim off about 1/3 to 1/2 of the top of the plant (yes, even the flowers-they'll be back), and then give it a slow, gentle watering, maybe every couple of days until it settles in a little bit. These flowers have a long blooming season, so if you help it survive moving, it will probably provide you with blooms until frost. Mostly it just needs to be given a rest, and not be required to pump moisture all the way up to the tips of those flowers. Leave as many leaves as possible below your trim area, as they provide nutrition for the plant.

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Compatibility of mixed ground covers with St. Agustine grass
March 04, 2015 - My husband and I live in Northwest Austin. We have removed lawn from our front yard and replaced it with mulch and some trees and other plantings. We would like to replace the lawn in our backyard ...
view the full question and answer

Plants to hide utility boxes
July 16, 2008 - What are suggestions for plants to plant around utilities boxes (3 of them clustered together) to effectively camouflage them but be attractive. We will outline a larger area in brick, plant evergree...
view the full question and answer

Speed of growth on plants from Plant Sale from Austin
April 28, 2012 - Hello, I recently attended the native plant sale and bought several plants for a sunny curbside bed in central Austin. Due to financial constraints I stuck with the 3 inch varieties so I could buy 3 ...
view the full question and answer

Shady Perennial Groundcover Suggestions for Indiana
April 21, 2013 - Could you please recommend perennial groundcovers for Indiana that are low and leafy, self-spreading, non-invasive, deer resistant, and moisture tolerant; and that are good for erosion control on a sh...
view the full question and answer

Patience pays off with chile pequin in Austin
September 24, 2011 - Hello. Re my June 08, 2011 message -- Guess what! The chile pequin is finally flowering and setting fruit in its container on my apartment patio. You said patience, you were right, and hooray once aga...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.