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Monday - June 21, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Transplants
Title: Transplanting suckers on Cenizo in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Our large silverado sage has produced some volunteers, which are now about 1 ft - 1-1/2 ft tall. Is it possible to transplant them or has the taproot grown too deep for transplanting? Also, will the volunteers produce any blooms? They haven't yet.


We assume you are referring to Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush), which is sometimes marketed under the trade name 'Silverado Sage.' We have made an extensive search to determine if this plant spreads by suckering as, for instance, does the sumac. We found no indication of that anywhere. Suckering can sometimes be the result of some sort of damage to the main plant, in which case the suckers are an attempt by the roots to survive. They are not separate little bushes, but basically new "branches" to the tree, growing directly out of the roots to add leaves to the food-producing mechanism of the plant.

We even saw a hint that spraying an herbicide in the area, especially if it came into contact with the green bark, could cause a decline in the "mother" bush and putting out suckers like lifeboats. The writers of this didn't seem too sure of it themselves, and we certainly don't know anything about it. We do want to warn anyone who is trying to eliminate some "weeds" with chemicals that they don't know what else in the area will be affected; a puff of wind could take out some plants you didn't want to lose. Another culprit we are hearing about is the over-application of "weed and feed" fertilizers on lawns. The "weed" part of that application is intended to kill the broad-leaf plants in a lawn, that is, dicots, as opposed to the grass in the lawn, which is a monocot. As it happens, shrubs and trees are also dicots, so an overly enthusiastic application of "weed and feed" or, again, the puff of wind could damage the roots of your shrubs.

We do not believe trying to transplant those suckers would be successful, because the suckers' roots are the shrub's roots. If you would like to increase your plant, here are the Propagation Instructions from our Native Plant Database:


Propagation Material: Seeds , Softwood Cuttings , Semi-hardwood Cuttings
Description: Plant seeds in greenhouse immediately after summer collection or store over winter in a cool, dry place and plant outside in spring, after final frost. Cuttings should be semi-hardwood and of the current seasons growth.
Seed Collection: Seeds are very tiny and must be collected before the capsule dries and splits open. Collect after each blooming period. Store in a cool, dry place.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Prune plants to keep compact. The best time for planting most shrubs and trees is during the dormant period of fall and winter. As with any shrub or tree, the first year requires regular deep watering for successful root establishment. Once established, does not require fertilization or watering beyond average rainfall. Cultivated cenizos tend to become leggier with fewer blooms than in nature; tip prune to increase density.

It is our suggestion that you wait until cool weather and prune away the suckers, carefully, without damaging the bark of the trunk. Don't spray any herbicide anywhere around there because you have created an entrance into the tree roots for that herbicide in pruning. Remember that the Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) needs very good drainage and no fertilizer

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens






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