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
1 rating

Thursday - November 20, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Hedge of native Purple Sage in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi, I would like to plant a dense hedge of Purple Sage that will hopefully grow from 6-8 ' tall and about 4' wide. I purchased the Silverado Sage Leucophyllum frutescens 'Berstar Dwarf' variety. The tag says to space them 6' apart and that the average size is 4'. I'm seeing different heights, spacings, and sizes on the internet. How far apart should I really plant these to get a good dense wall like the picture I found on your website?

ANSWER:

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush), also known as cenizo or purple sage, is one of our favorite plants for this part of the country. Evergreen and nearly ever-blooming with its lovely, soft gray-green leaves as a background for the stunning pinky-purple flowers. In terms of the expected size, since this is a cultivar, you should probably expect that the information on the tag is accurate. Also, since virtually all commercially available plants of this sort are the products of cuttings, they are all clones, and therefore should all have nearly identical expectations in terms of growth, size, width, etc. Particularly since this is a dwarf cultivar of a plant that is normally only from 2 to 5' tall, it doesn't seem too reasonable to expect a height of 6-8'.  If the tag says the average size is 4', that's a good estimate of what height all the bushes will be.

In terms of making a dense hedge. we hope you don't make it too dense. This is a desert plant, used to having plenty of sun and air circulation. If the plants grow too close together, and thus grow together, as it were, you are likely to lose some bloom potential because the blooms will be shaded by the other bushes on either side. We personally prefer the loose, natural way it grows, allowing it to make its own rules. Certainly, some pruning can be done, but we hope you don't prune into a squared-off boxline hedge such as we see on some commercial properties around town. You will certainy lose almost all your blooms to the power pruner if you try to do that. 

From our webpage on this plant: "Cenizo is easy to grow so long as it has good drainage. It makes a good screen or hedge. There are many nice color selections and cultivars. Susceptible to cotton root rot. Humidity and high night temperatures are lethal. Cultivated cenizos tend to become leggier with fewer blooms than in nature; tip prune to increase density. Cenizos should not be fertilized or over-watered. Drought- and heat-tolerant." If you want to make your hedge a little denser for privacy, you might try planting your shrubs in holes with the centers 5' apart. 


Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

 

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Seeds of agave attenuata from San Diego CA
April 16, 2012 - After the agave attenuata bloom dried up there are seeds like thing hanging on the foxtail; do I leave it until it dies or do I chop that down. Are those seeds for propagation. The leaves of the plan...
view the full question and answer

Trimming Texas mountain laurel in Austin
August 27, 2009 - Is there a specific time to trim established mountain laurels? Should I cut off the dried seed pods since they are weighing down the branches?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Fan Scarlet-Cardinal
September 02, 2005 - I have a lobelia x speciosa (Fan Scarlet-Cardinal) plant and was wondering if I should dead head it after blossoming so that the plant continues to flower. Can you help? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

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

Passiflora and Leucophyllum together in Texas
April 23, 2015 - I've got a Passiflora incarnata that has self-propagated around a cenizo sage. My question is, will the passionflower vine choke out or otherwise damage the cenizo? Do I need to cut back the vine? ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center