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 - 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

Hanging Baskets for Batson, TX
May 23, 2014 - What plants can I put in hanging baskets for my shady porch?
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistant Groundcover for lower Michigan
June 24, 2012 - What ground cover is deer resistant for a sunny location in lower Michigan?
view the full question and answer

Garden instructions from Austin
June 12, 2013 - I'm a beginning gardener putting in some new landscaping in my front yard in north central Austin, TX. The yard faces almost due east, so it gets full sun until early afternoon, when the house's sha...
view the full question and answer

Overwintering Cardinal Flower in Thornwood NY
October 01, 2009 - I have 6 Cardinal Flower plants in planters. They have mulch on top to keep them moist. Can they stay in the planters all winter? Do I cut the stalks before winter comes or leave as is?
view the full question and answer

Landscape color for Rialto, CA
May 11, 2009 - My sister-in-law lives in Rialto CA near the base of the San Bernardino Mt ranges and it gets very windy out there. She and I were trying to figure out the best native plants for her area. Her home fa...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center