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Mr. Smarty Plants - Flowering evergreen shrubs for sun in Austin

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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