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

Monday - August 22, 2011

From: Kerrville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Pruning drought-stressed butterfly plants from Kerrville TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Due to the drought, our butterfly bushes have dead branches. Ordinarily we prune the dormant plants in winter, but can we cut back dead branches now?


According to this USDA Plant Profile map, Buddleja marrubiifolia (Woolly butterflybush) grows natively only in far southwest Texas. While you may have a native plant in Kerr County, we think it is more likely that you have a non-native member of the Buddleja genus, such as Buddleja davidii, discussed in this Floridata article.

Since both are woody shrubs, we think the pruning descriptions should be the same. From Mountain Valley Growers, here is an article on Butterfly Bushes. As to whether you can cut back the dead branches now-if you want to get out in the sun, heat and drought now, you certainly can prune the dead branches away. 

Pictures of Buddleja davidii from Google.


From the Image Gallery

Woolly butterflybush
Buddleja marrubiifolia

Woolly butterflybush
Buddleja marrubiifolia

Woolly butterflybush
Buddleja marrubiifolia

More Shrubs Questions

Shrubs to grow in a narrow area no taller than 3 ft. in Cadiz, KY.
May 27, 2011 - I need to plant shrubs in a narrow area between my house and sidewalk. I have a low porch so I want the shrub to grow no taller than 3 ft. What do you recommend? It is in full sun.
view the full question and answer

Non-native Philadelphus Innocence mock orange from Paris TX
June 20, 2012 - What is the best place in the garden to grow Philadelphus Innocence mock orange in Paris, Tx? Also, how long after transplanting do flowers occur? Any tips appreciated
view the full question and answer

Privacy shrubs and trees that are safe for horses in California
June 16, 2012 - What type of privacy shrubs/trees can I plant that are safe around horses? I live in the central valley in CA. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Limp leaves on Texas purple sage in Magnolia TX
July 22, 2010 - Recently planted Texas purple sage, some of it looks healthy and has new blooms, but a few of the plants have limp leaves and are thin at the bottom. I read the article on cotton root rot, but am not ...
view the full question and answer

Draought-tolerant screening shrub for Shasta County, California
July 08, 2015 - It has been suggested to me that I plant phodocarpus 'maki' along my fence for needed privacy due to it's dimensions. I need something that does not grow too wide. I would not be pruning them as I ...
view the full question and answer

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