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Friday - July 21, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Other
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Transplants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Salvia, geum transplant shock symptoms
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I need some help. I transplanted 2 xeriscape plants and they are not doing well. 1 is Pitcher Sage-sorry I don't know botanical name; the other is White Avens. The've grown a lot but all the leaves are turning brown in spots. The Avens plant leaves curl down then turn completely brown and die. The leaves on the White Avens start to grow but don't get big. There is no growth of leave on the pitcher sage; the stem is turning brown. I've sprayed it with safer soap to keep mites off. What should I feed them? Any help you can give me would be appreciated.


Both Pitcher Sage, Salvia azurea var. grandiflora (formerly Salvia pitcheri) and White Avens, Geum canadense are perennial plants. Perennials typically take one or two years to recover from the stress of transplanting and three to four years to reach their maximum potential in their new location. It sounds like your plants are mainly suffering from transplant shock.

If your sage and avens were recently transplanted, the hot weather we are currently experiencing could have devastating effect on them. Remove as much of the top of the plants as you feel can be safely pruned away (up to 1/2) to reduce stressed caused by dessication. Until the roots of your plants are better established, they simply cannot support all of the top-growth they could before transplanting. Even potted plants usually suffer significant root-loss during the transplanting process.

Do not feed your plants until they show signs of recovery by beginning to put on new growth. Feeding them now can exacerbate the problems they're currently suffering and could lead to their ultimate demise. Also, horticultural soaps and oils can cause leaf scorching (phytotoxicity) if used on water-stressed plants - especially in hot weather. The symptoms you described for your avens plant sounds like a combination of water stress and phytotoxicity.

Removing some of the top-growth, providing protection from wind and especially intense sunlight, and keeping your new perennials adequately watered during the critical first few months while they're establishing new roots should lead to success with them and just about any other plant.


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