En EspaÑol

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

Wednesday - February 06, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Select Region
Topic: Non-Natives, Pruning, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Pruning pink skullcap and rock daisy from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have some pink skullcap and rock daisy and other plants in my yard that never entirely die back over the winter. Can you tell me what kind of pruning is appropriate? How far can/should I cut them back? I don't want to kill them, and getting just dead leafless branches out of them is not really practical. Please help!

ANSWER:

This is why Smarty Plants struggles with common names of plants. The same plant, sometimes in several different states or even countries, may have half a dozen different common names. For instance:

From Koala Native Plants on Brachyscome multifida (rock daisy). This is an Australian native and, we presume, not the one you have in your garden

Melampodium leucanthum (Blackfoot daisy) (also called rock daisy)

Perityle lindheimeri (Lindheimer's rockdaisy)

Here is a previous Smarty Plants answer on Pink skullcap from Central Texas Gardener.

After studying our webpages on the two that are native, and the Scutellaria suffretescens (Pink Skullcap) which may or may not be native, we are concluding that all are moderately low-growing perennials which will grow well in Austin.

Our advice on pruning perennials is pretty standard. Even if they are evergreen and certainly if they are not, they can take a good pruning in late winter. We like to leave about 6 inches of stems or branches standing on the ground. New green growth will quickly begin to show at the roots, but the standing branches will remind you that this is not a weed that needs yanking coming up. Because the plant needs leaves to provide food for the plant and blooms to produce seeds to propagate the plant, it will get busy putting on new, more vigorous growth. The plant doesn't care what its name is, it's just doing its thing.

 

From the Image Gallery


Lindheimer's rockdaisy
Perityle lindheimeri

Blackfoot daisy
Melampodium leucanthum

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Transplanting trilliums in dormancy in Michigan
February 15, 2006 - I live in Michigan. I have a Trillium in my yard and we are having a new septic field put in. I need to know if I can save the whole plant and can I keep it in the house or do I just need the bulb a...
view the full question and answer

Weak stems on asters and ironweed from Woodbridge ON
June 06, 2012 - My question is in regards to plants flopping over. My smooth asters and ironweeds never seem to have strong stems. Is because the soil is too fertile or maybe too shallow?
view the full question and answer

Error on message from Rogue River OR
July 25, 2011 - Previous message regarding sweet peas and how to get them growing was submitted with wrong state - It went out Rouge River, Rhode Island -- Should have been Rouge River, Oregon
view the full question and answer

Appearance of Viola lanceolota after controlled burn
March 28, 2009 - Oh Great Green Guru, I just recently found Viola lanceolota (bog white violet) on a portion of Brazos Bend State Park’s prairie that was burned about 2 months ago to control for woody growth. (I wou...
view the full question and answer

Nightflowering plants native to Northern Illinois
October 12, 2010 - Looking for any/all info on night flowering plants that are native to Northern Illinois.
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