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 Invasive Plants Questions

Non-native Royal Empress tree with only green leaves from Chambersburg PA
July 12, 2013 - I have 3 Royal Empress trees in my yard that are between 2-4 yrs old and have never been any color other then big Green leaves. Do you know when they will turn Purple?
view the full question and answer

Kudzu for Ft. Lauderdale, FL
July 27, 2010 - I just inherited a piece of land and am very much interested in starting some kind of homeopathic herbs. Can you tell me about Kudzu and where I can purchase some of these seeds?
view the full question and answer

Skunk cabbage to repel rabbits in Wichita KS
May 22, 2011 - I would like to find a skunk cabbage plant or oil of skunk cabbage to drive away rabbits from my garden.. It does work for several yrs ago I purchased a plant from a garden shop but can not find it no...
view the full question and answer

Legality of using Chinese tallow seeds for Christmas decorations
December 07, 2008 - If tallow trees are on the noxious list, is it illegal to use the white berries for Christmas decorations?
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant with orange sap that glows at night
June 06, 2012 - I was just pulling up a plant and noticed that its sap was a kind of orange then I noticed it glowing orange at night. What kind of plant is this and is it dangerous?
view the full question and answer

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