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Friday - October 02, 2009

From: Duncanville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Shaping cenizo in Duncanville TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Our Silverado Sage, which we expected to be 4' to 5' high and wide based on the label when we purchased it about 10 years ago, is nearly 7' tall and very random in shape (not the evenly rounded shape that a healthy Silverado Sage should have). It is blooming profusely and in all other ways appears healthy. What is the best way to prune it and encourage a more round shape as it grows back? And when is the best time to prune?

ANSWER:

Silverado Sage is a trade name for Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush), also called cenizo. While native to west and south Texas, in desert areas, it is not native to north central Texas. However, if you have had it for 10 years, it obviously is doing fine where it is. Here are the Growing Conditions for this plant:

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Rocky, well-drained soils. Limestone-based, Sandy Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type
Conditions Comments: According to legend, cenizo tend to bloom in conjunction with rainfall. The ashy appearance of the leaves is due to the millions of tiny hairs covering them. 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.

Notice the warnings about fertilizing and over-watering; that could be what caused it to grow more than you expected, but it could also be the downfall of the plant. Also, you will see that tip pruning is recommended to increase density. We are going to give you some pictures of cenizo in its natural state, so you can see that it, like other plants, grows as it pleases and doesn't read the nursery labels. You should prune this bush gradually, not whack it down to a shape you like. Trimming it too severely for shape will cause you to lose a lot of the gorgeous pinky-purple blooms. Since it is evergreen and capable of blooming year-round, we recommend beginning the gradual pruning now, and continue until you get the shape you want, and then continue tip pruning for density and shape. 

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