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?


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 - October 02, 2009

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


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?


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. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens




More Pruning Questions

Adventitious sprouts from Live Oak in Dallas
February 26, 2011 - How do I kill Holly growing in my yard? I have a Live Oak tree growing in my Bermuda grass lawn. The holly grows under the tree from the trunk extending out about 12-15 ft. It grows right in with the ...
view the full question and answer

Century Plant
April 20, 2013 - I have a century plant that has just begun to bloom. I have a transplanted a few pups, successfully. I am wondering how I am to go about removing the mother plant once it blooms and dies. I'm reading...
view the full question and answer

Pruning a Wafer Ash to make it upright
February 11, 2005 - How do I trim a Wafer Ash? It lays on the ground. Is that normal? Does it need to be upright?
view the full question and answer

Sprouts at base of holly in Surprise AZ
November 15, 2010 - Friends have recently planted a holly tree in their front yard. They live in AZ and there is no grass (only rock) around their tree. It was planted as a fairly large tree (about 18 feet).My question i...
view the full question and answer

Correcting overgrown Savannah holly in Goldsboro NC
April 24, 2010 - I have an overgrown Savannah Holly. How do I go about correcting?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center