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Mr. Smarty Plants - Winter care of native perennials in Austin

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Sunday - October 19, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Winter care of native perennials in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Last spring I planted some wildflowers suggested by Deryn Davidson. they did extremely well. I planted-Gulf Muhly,Big Muhly,Red Yucca,Purple Cone Flower,Wine Cup, Large Buttercup And Mealy Blue sage, also Blackfoot Daisy.My question is:What do I do with these plants to get them ready for the winter months?

ANSWER:

And very nice choices, too, you chose wisely in asking Deryn for advice in your selections. Because these are all tough natives of this area, they don't need any wrapping, or covering, etc. to get them through the winter. You can follow the link of each plant to our webpage on that plant and get some of the answers to your questions, and/or go to the bottom of that webpage and follow a link on that plant to Google. We will give you some brief suggestions and you can go from there.

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly) - These are beautiful in the Fall and hold their place. In early Spring you can rake the loose, dead stems out of the grass clump to tidy it up, but trimming or pruning is never recommended.

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly) - Semi-evergreen, can also use some raking out in early Spring. It is not necessary to cut this grass back and it will be slow to fill in if you do.

Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca) Although not a true yucca, this is evergreen. Except for tidying up, removing any dead flower stalks or blades, and keeping dead leaves, etc. cleaned out (to help prevent mold) this really doesn't need any particular Winter care.

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower) - This plant kind of takes care of its own winterizing. The bloom stalks will die back, and should be trimmed off close to their base. If a rosette of green leaves remains, leave it there to mark where to expect new plants to come up in the Spring. Or just trim back the dead leaf stalks leaving 6" or so to mark the spot. 

Callirhoe involucrata (purple poppymallow) - evergreen to semi-evergreen, which means it will hold its place and you'll know where to expect it to begin blooming in the Spring. If the foliage dies back, just remember what it looks like so you won't pull up what you think is a weed in the Spring.

Ranunculus macranthus (large buttercup) - this is herbaceous, which means it will lose its leaves and die back to the ground. It grows easily from seed, and will probably come back both from the roots and from its own self-sown seeds. Blooms March to May, so expect an early showing.

Salvia farinacea (mealycup sage) - this plant is herbaceous, but will usually leave a rosette of leaves to mark its place; if not, leave some stalks to mark it. During the blooming season, the blooming stalks should be cut back to their base when they have finished their bloom. Rake dead plant matter away from the base to keep insects from wintering over. 

Melampodium leucanthum (plains blackfoot) - In late Winter, older plants can be cut back halfway to keep them compact.


Muhlenbergia capillaris

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Hesperaloe parviflora

Echinacea purpurea

Callirhoe involucrata

Ranunculus macranthus

Salvia farinacea

Melampodium leucanthum

 

 

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