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?

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

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 - December 19, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Planting, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Frost damage to native plants in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello, We bought a number of native plants at this fall's WFC sale and planted them. The recent frost seems to have defoliated our pitcher sage, beautyberry, butterflyweed, and flame acanthus plants (I did cover them them with burlap). Will these recover in spring? Thanks, Raj

ANSWER:

You did a splendid job of selecting plants at our semi-annual Plant Sale, and thanks for coming. Every one of those plants is native to the area, but of course you know that because that is what we sell at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center sales-plants that will survive our sometimes extreme weather and like our soils. All of these plants are deciduous, so it should be no surprise that they are defoliating. If you had them already in the ground the earth around them is the best insulator there is. If they were still in pots when the frosts occurred, the exposure of their roots to the cold might have accelerated the leaf drop but should not have killed them. In fact, it is hard to avoid transplant shock to some degree any time a plant is moved, but we don't think that is a major concern in this case.

All the plants you selected are perennial, which means they will return from their roots in the Spring, if they were properly planted. We hope that you made provisions for  drainage in our clay soils, and you might consider mulching the soil around them, which will improve the soil, hold in moisture, and protect the roots from cold and heat. Of course, even with well cared for native plants, damage is always possible, but we think you have a very good chance of having some beautiful and hardy plants re-emerging in the Spring. If you want any more information, you can follow the plant links below to our webpages on the individual plants.

Salvia azurea (Pitcher sage)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (Flame acanthus)

 

From the Image Gallery


Flame acanthus
Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

Pitcher sage
Salvia azurea

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

More Shrubs Questions

Privacy screen for pool from Southlake TX
April 21, 2012 - I have a row of 7 live oaks that help block my neighbors two story house. Unfortunately, there is a gap between each tree of about 8 feet wide and 15 feet tall (from ground to the first branches/ leav...
view the full question and answer

Native landscape in Central Austin
September 02, 2007 - We live in Central Austin and are landscaping part of yard. We planted a 30 gallon red oak tree, built sizeable beds around it and want to complete the landscaping with native grasses, shrubs, climbin...
view the full question and answer

Does Wax Myrtle Have a Taproot?
March 25, 2015 - Does a wax myrtle have a taproot?
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for playground barrier hedge in Darien CT
December 07, 2009 - I am working on my Eagle Scout project which is a barrier hedge in front of a playground at our town's baseball field to protect the kids from getting hit by balls. The fence would be 4 feet tall an...
view the full question and answer

Indoor lantana tree dropping leaves
November 06, 2008 - I purchased a lantana tree,a lantana hybrid that is only tolerant to 32 degrees. We are zone 5 so I brought it indoors and it only gets the morning sun, and 85%of the leaves have fallen off. The leav...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center