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 - January 09, 2012

From: Marble Falls, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seasonal Tasks, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Seasonal tasks for Big Red Sage and Tall Aster in Marble Falls TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I transplanted some Big Red Sage and Tall Aster into my raised bed garden in early summer this year. They've sent up lots of rosettes. Do I need to protect them from freezing in winter? Do I need to thin them and if yes, when? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Salvia pentstemonoides (Big red sage) and Symphyotrichum praealtum var. praealtum (Tall aster) are two excellent plants for your garden, with fairly low maintenance needs. Both are native to Burnet County, so they are hardy in the USDA Hardiness Zone where they are growing. Both are perennials that die back to the ground and come up from the rosettes in the Spring and both thrive in sun or part shade. Don't worry about covering them in the ground. They are insulated by the warmth of the Earth; in fact, Big Red Sage is hardy from Zones 6a to 10b and Tall Aster grows as far north as Ontario in eastern Canada. Burnet County is in Zone 8b.

As far as thinning them, we would say you don't "need" to thin, you thin them when they are getting crowded or you need more plants in another area. We suggest you read this article on Caring for Your Perennials from Weston Gardens, especially this excerpt on time of thinning:

"Perennials, in general, should be transplanted during the season opposite of when they bloom. That is, transplant Spring and Summer-flowering perennials in the Fall and transplant Fall-flowering perennials in the early Spring."

Therefore, since the Big Red Sage blooms red in June to October and Tall Blue Aster blooms purple from October to November, both could be thinned in Spring.

 

From the Image Gallery


Big red sage
Salvia pentstemonoides

Spreading aster
Symphyotrichum patens var. patens

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Project on natives in Connecticut from Chino CA
April 13, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, My 10 yr. old daughter is doing a project on Ct., and would like to know what the most common plants, trees and flowers are found in this state. A few of each would be a great ...
view the full question and answer

Fall blooming time for Copper Canyon Daisies
August 31, 2006 - None of our Copper Canyon Daisies bloomed this year. Can you tell us why? They have been prolific bloomers in past summers.
view the full question and answer

Plant ID at the Wildflower Center from Austin
June 18, 2012 - I was at the Wildflower Center today and loved the green plants with delicate white flowers that were in both clay pots in front of the auditorium. Please let me know the name of the plants.
view the full question and answer

Copper Canyon daisy leaves turning yellow in Spring Branch TX
September 01, 2010 - My Copper Canyon daisies have grown well this year but the leaves are turning yellow. Any ideas?
view the full question and answer

Dietes bicolor(Bicolor Iris) winter-hardiness in Austin
February 09, 2010 - I have many bi-color irises (dietes bicolor), the freeze in Austin turned them brown. Can I trim them back without harming the plants? If trimming is acceptable, can you give me tips?
view the full question and answer

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