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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Thursday - January 27, 2005

From: Cibolo, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Late winter pruning of native Texas Sage
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

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 tear them up? They have managed to lean over and kill all the smaller bushes around them. When should I do what ever I should do? We live in the San Antonio area.

ANSWER:

Texas sage, or cenizo, (Leucophyllum frutescens) tends to get leggy in cultivation, especially if it is growing in the shade. The most likely reason it is leaning is that it is growing towards the direction of the most sunlight. Late winter is the best time to prune it and it sounds as if it would benefit from a severe cutback. Even with an extreme pruning it will probably survive and sprout again and you can then tip prune to keep its shape and size in check. Also, it should be watered only sparingly and it should not be fertilized. Should it not survive the severe pruning, you might consider replacing it with one of the dwarf varieties, such as 'Silverado'(tm).

You can read about the Texas sage in the Native Plants Database on the Wildflower Center web page. Select "Growing Conditions" from the menu at the top of that page to read more about maintaining your Texas sage.

 

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