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
1 rating

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 Pruning Questions

Cutting back woody plants after freeze in Leander TX
December 10, 2009 - I have several woody shrubs in a prominent location. Now that the leaves have frozen, how far back should I cut them? These are Flame Acanthus, Salvia ballotiflora, and Aloysia macrostachya, but I w...
view the full question and answer

Blackfoot daisy declining in Austin
September 04, 2010 - My Blackfoot Daisies have grown large, bushy, have bloomed well over the past two summers. Now parts of the plants are drying up, dying. Will pruning out the dead parts help the plants to survive, or ...
view the full question and answer

Removal of Carolina Jasmine in San Antonio
March 02, 2009 - We are attempting to permanently remove large old-growth Carolina Yellow Jasmine, Gelsemium sempervirens bushes from our property. The bushes are cut down. Any suggestions for stump/root removal (mec...
view the full question and answer

Sun loving plants for flower bed by the pool in Weatherford Texas
October 03, 2011 - We have a 40' long x 2 1/2' wide flowerbed along our pool. It is in full sun with the pool deck across the front and a 6' privacy fence across back. Also, the level of the bed is 18" below the l...
view the full question and answer

Care of poppy plants
July 10, 2013 - I bought a tiny poppy grow kit at Target for 99 cents. Amazingly, they have grown into numerous large and very healthy plants, though they don't all appear to be the same species. Some have grown to ...
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