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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - June 06, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Pruning, Transplants, Shrubs
Title: Poverty plant overgrown in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a poverty plant that is too big for its space in our yard. We like it and want to keep it. Can it be transplanted easily? What about pruning it.

ANSWER:

We had to search on "poverty" in our Native Plant Database, and got 4 results:

Two, Sporobolus vaginiflorus (Poverty dropseed) and Baccharis neglecta (False willow) grow in Travis County. The other two, Danthonia spicata (Poverty oatgrass) and Juncus tenuis (Poverty rush) grow in Texas but not in Travis County. Since you asked about transplanting or pruning it, we decided it was probably the False Willow. You can follow all four links to the webpages on those plants to make sure we chose the correct plant.

Follow this plant link Baccharis neglecta (False willow) to our webpage on the plant. Here are the Conditions Comments on it:

"The species name neglecta refers to the prevalence of this plant in neglected or disturbed areas. Although common, consider planting this shrub for its showy profusion of silky silver/white flowers. Roosevelt Weed is also a good nectar plant for many pollinators including some butterflies. Simple to care for: Full sun and low water."

On the subject of transplant, NOT NOW. No matter how large or small, healthy or not, we recommend planting all woody plants, trees and shrubs, from November to January in Texas. The plants should be dormant then and less likely to develop transplant shock, which can be fatal. A lot depends on how large the shrub is now and where you would have to move it to.

As we did further research on this plant, we are wondering if you might want to have another think about saving it at all. Read this article from Aggie Horticulture, where we learned that it not only can become quite invasive, it is also very flammable, not a good trait in view of Austin's recent history. Another article from the Bell County Master Gardeners The "Neglected" Shrub reflects the same concerns. False Willow blooms from August to October and begins to set seeds even as it blooms. We would recommend that, if nothing else, you prune all blooming limbs away, which would reduce its size, and seriously consider taking the whole plant out before it even gets to blooming.

 

From the Image Gallery


False willow
Baccharis neglecta

False willow
Baccharis neglecta

False willow
Baccharis neglecta

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