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

Monday - August 09, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Transplants, Shrubs
Title: Flowering evergreen shrubs for sun in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am looking for a flowering evergreen shrubs that can take all afternoon sun(on the west side of our house. Preferably 2ft high and 2 ft wide. I had planted a few Salvia Greggii(Autumn Sage) which on paper was a perfect plant for my requirements, but it has been wilting and getting crispy since the temperatures have gone up to normal summer time levels. Any suggestions? Thanks.

ANSWER:

This sounds like transplant shock, where a plant is unable to adjust to the conditions in which it is being grown. The first thing we need to ask is when did you plant it? Perennials like Salvia greggii (autumn sage) should be planted in late Fall or early Spring, to give their little rootlets time to adjust to the soil and start pulling nutrients in for the plant, as the roots and the plant grow. If it was planted in the Summer, even though the early part of the season was relatively cool, that is still a shock for the plant. The other thing we are wondering is if you prepared the soil for good drainage. Below are the Growing Conditions for this plant:

"Water Use: Low

Light Requirement: Sun

Soil Moisture: Dry
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained, rocky soils, usually limestone of greater or lesser organic content. Also in sands and loams.
Conditions Comments: Autumn sage must have a well-drained site and cannot take shrink-swell clay soils. In clay soils, work in organic matter and amendments to improve drainage and, if possible, plant on a slope. Though generally cold tolerant, will be deciduous in regions with extremely cold winters, though some cultivars do well even in Oklahoma and Colorado, well outside of its natural range. Avoid planting it near heavy foot traffic because the stems are very brittle."

Much of Austin is underlaid by clay soil, and without working in some organic matter, the plant simply cannot access the nutrients it needs from the soil. Also, when we say "sun" for light requirements, we are talking about 6 or more hours of sun a day. Two to six hours of sun is considered "part shade."

If you feel you need to replace the salvia, dig it up and get compost worked into the ground now, but don't plant a replacement now. Wrong time.  We will suggest a few shrubs that can tolerate sun, including trying again on the Salvia Greggii, but wait to purchase the plants until you are ready to put them in the ground, not in the summer, and make sure the soil has increased drainage.  Also, asking for both flowering and evergreen severely limits the possibilities. Some plants that are native to this area and are evergreen have very small, insignificant flowers. Some plants that have showy flowers are deciduous. Follow each plant link to our page on that shrub to determine its expected size, bloom time and color, and whether it is evergreen or deciduous. 

Shrubs for Sun or Part Shade in Austin:

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (Wright's desert honeysuckle)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Chrysactinia mexicana (damianita)

Erythrina herbacea (redcardinal)

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush)

Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry)

Salvia greggii (autumn sage)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii

Callicarpa americana

Chrysactinia mexicana

Erythrina herbacea

Ilex vomitoria

Leucophyllum frutescens

Mahonia swaseyi

Salvia greggii

 

 

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Possibility of replacing Bermudagrass with native grasses and wildflowers
November 24, 2008 - Are there any native grasses and wildflowers that can compete with bermuda grass to make a nativ-y wild area without removing the bermuda?
view the full question and answer

Annual for poor drainage area in Temple TX
October 08, 2009 - What annual would you recommend for a bed with poor drainage for summer color ?
view the full question and answer

Care in planting native Shumard oaks
April 16, 2008 - I am going to plant 3 shumard red oaks on the west side of my property. The land is basically rocky. What should I put in the holes to help the tree grow?
view the full question and answer

Water eroding corner in Austin
October 25, 2011 - I live close to the Wildflower Center. My yard slopes - as do my neighbors' yards to one corner in my yard. The result is constant moisture in one corner. The rest of the yard is caliche, rocks (m...
view the full question and answer

Amending soil for butterfly garden in Houston
April 01, 2013 - My girl scout troop will be planting a butterfly garden at a middle school in Houston. In researching plants to use, we have come across some such as echinacea, rose vervain, galliarda and Texas gay...
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