Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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 Planting Questions

When can native wildflower mix seeds be planted from Rosenberg TX
May 30, 2012 - I received a package of "All Native Wildflower Mix". The package says plant in Spring. Is too late to plant now or should I wait for next March?
view the full question and answer

Time of year to plant Texas Mountain Laurel in El Paso, TX
June 10, 2013 - When is the best time of year to plant a Mountain Laurel tree in El Paso?
view the full question and answer

Planting Live oak trees in Katy, TX.
November 03, 2012 - We are building a house in a neighborhood where the HOA requires two live oaks in the front yard. Our lot is pie shaped leaving a very small front yard once you take into acct the driveway and sidewal...
view the full question and answer

Competition between peony and bulbs
November 06, 2015 - I am planting 3 herbaceous peony bare roots 3 feet apart from each other. I am told it will take 3 years before I get blooms. In the meantime, can i safely plant springtime flowering bulbs in th...
view the full question and answer

Plant to cover retaining wall in Carlisle PA
August 01, 2010 - I have a block retaining wall in my back yard. I need to find a quick growing plant that will grow through late summer into fall and cover the wall with limited sunlight.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.