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
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 Pruning Questions

Pruning non-native peach in Austin, TX.
June 18, 2015 - I planted two five gallon Texas Star peach trees last February but didn't have the nerve to prune them back to knee height. After having been convinced that this is a good thing to do, I'd like to k...
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

Pruning a mock orange in Charleston WV
March 30, 2009 - How far back and when do I prune a "Mock Orange" in order to get it to bloom?
view the full question and answer

Safe time to trim live oak trees
June 20, 2008 - Our live oak trees need a little trimming, as some of the branches are hanging too low, almost to the ground. We planted them about 5 years ago, so they are well established, healthy trees. My husband...
view the full question and answer

Pruning native Senna lindheimeriana
September 28, 2008 - I asked a question about pruning a Texas Senna tree. The Texas Senna I have is either a S. wislizenii or a S.lindheimeriana. It is a beautiful tree that I purchased at a Texas Native Plant nursery. ...
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