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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - November 17, 2009

From: Bertram, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Leaf loss on Cenizo in Bertram TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I need help with a purple sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) problem. Most of one of my plants started having paler, more greyish leaves, then the leaves began to fall off. It seemed to still look healthy at the tips and it still blooms, but now has very few leaves on most of that plant. Now my healthiest sage is starting the same thing. We have great drainage, do not overwater, and I see no clear evidence of insects or scale. I have photos I could send if needed. Thanks

ANSWER:

We really can't diagnose difficulties with a plant that we can't see; sometimes we can't do it with plants we CAN see. So, we want to offer some ideas on what might be going on with your bush, and you might be able to figure it out or stop worrying about it.

First, the Cenizo will tolerate part shade, but really prefers full sun for at least 4 to 6 hours a day. This is a very tough desert plant, and you need to avoid coddling it. It doesn't like compost, fertilizer or overwatering. It does like alkaline soil, and can grow in pretty difficult circumstances. If you are being too good to your Cenizo, cut it out. Another thing is that it is referred to as "semi-evergreen" in some research sources. You know how live oak trees are considered evergreen and suddenly, about March, they dump most of their leaves and then grow back some fresh ones? That might be what your plant is doing, as well. Finally, our favorite reason to give when something is different about a plant in Central Texas is that we have had really weird (even for Texas) weather for the last two or three years. The species has seen all this before, and has its own defense mechanisms built in. You might try a little tip pruning to encourage the shrub to thicken up, as it can become loose and leggy otherwise. 

In summary, we don't know what's wrong with your plants; on the other hand, we're not sure there is anything wrong with them. Give them some time, but don't give them anything else, like fertilizer or too much water. Every plant needs some down time, a little dormancy, and that could be what you're seeing. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Rose varieties for Alabama
October 26, 2009 - What climate and soil types will Rosa Rogosa, a plant that grows in MA, require?
view the full question and answer

Non-native ligustrum in non-native fescue in Medina TX
May 22, 2013 - Is there an effective way to kill baby ligustrums coming up in my fescue yard without harming the grass?
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

Monocarpic plants for Indiana
October 06, 2005 - We were in Hawaii this summer and became acquainted with the Silversword. This plant (according to what we were told) blooms only once in it's lifetime (of 50-70 years). Are you aware of any other pl...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Carolina Laurel Cherry from Pflugerville, TX
September 02, 2011 - In 2007 we planted 7 Carolina Laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana)across our back fence. Everything was fine until this year. Three of the trees seemed to get sick and a local arborist said the roots ne...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center