En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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 Compost and Mulch Questions

Ground cover for heavy dog traffic in Huntsville TX
July 23, 2010 - We have recently moved to Huntsville, TX where our backyard is very shady and has only a small patch of St. Augustine grass and the rest is a dry, sand-like soil. We also have 2 Great Danes and 2 Pugs...
view the full question and answer

Esperanza with rust spots in Corpus Christi, TX
November 30, 2009 - I have a young esperanza plant and the leaves have what looks like rust spots all over them. What is the cause of this and what can I do for it? My other larger and older esperanza does not have this....
view the full question and answer

Combining native shrubs for hedge in Austin
April 15, 2009 - Smarty, Please tell me what the definitions are for all the various water, soil moisture, drainage and light requirements mean. Are the definitions global? I live in Central East Austin and inten...
view the full question and answer

Moving a volunteer holly from Springfield IL
October 11, 2010 - When would be the very best time to move a volunteer holly? I would say it is 3 years old, it stands about 5 feet tall, shaped like a very nice tree and it keeps its leaves. Thank you. Karen
view the full question and answer

Recovering neglected garden space from Grapevine TX
March 22, 2014 - I live in Grapevine TX (Dallas). I just moved into a house where almost the entire large backyard is covered by oak trees that shed tons of leaves throughout our mild falls/winters. The yard has not...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center