Explore Plants

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
    
 

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 - August 19, 2013

From: Mesa, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Transplants, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Transplanting large Silverado Sage bushes from Mesa AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We just bought a condo with three Silverado Sage, each one is 6-8 ft tall, trained to grow as "trees" with bare branches for the bottom 4 feet or so, and beautiful flowering branches on top. They are probably 15-20 yrs old according to the neighbors.But we need to move them because they are about 5 feet from our back yard wall, taking up the only usable space for a table, chairs, etc. in our very tiny back yard. Can we move them back 5 feet without killing them? We want them to stay TALL because they currently provide lovely privacy from adjoining condos. They just need to be against the wall instead of the middle of our "backyard".

ANSWER:

Silverado Sage is a trade name for Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo). Sometimes they are called Texas Sage or Barometer Bush, and most are selections of those plants for better color or longer blooming. According to this USDA Plant Profile Map, it hasn't even been reported as growing anywhere but in Texas, but obviously it grows in Maricopa County, AZ. If you follow our plant link (above) to our webpage on this plant, you will find these growing conditions:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Rocky, well-drained soils. Limestone-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type
Conditions Comments: According to legend, cenizo tends to bloom in conjunction with rainfall. Cenizo is easy to grow so long as it has good drainage. Though this species is the most irrigation-tolerant of the genus, it is susceptible to cotton root rot if soil does not have good drainage and remains moist. Humidity and high night temperatures are lethal. Cenizos should not be fertilized or over-watered. Drought- and heat-tolerant. During very cold winters, may lose a few leaves."

It can bloom year-round, depending on the rains. We have actually never seen one pruned up into tree shape; most gardeners in Austin apparently prefer to leave them unpruned for the sake of the gorgeous blossoms. However, it sounds like it has been properly treated and pruned and is a wonderful idea for a privacy screen.

However (you knew there was a "however" coming, didn't you) we really would hate to see you mess with such lovely trees, with the danger of losiing them outright. Some suggestions:

1. Don't even consider moving it before cooler weather, like November to January. That would almost guarantee transplant shock and quick death.

2. Read this article from Clemson University Cooperative Extension on Transplanting Established Trees and Shrubs.

3. Now read this one from Popular Mechanics on having it done professionally. This might be easier on your back, maybe even easier on the tree, but it will be expensive and, frankly, we are not sure the type of equipment necessary will even go into your small yard.

4. Finally, IF the shrub survives, have you considered how the roots and the wall you mentioned are going to affect each other?

 

More Pruning Questions

Due to drought is pruning live oaks beneficial from Houston
December 07, 2011 - Would it be beneficial (presuming a continued spring drought) to prune live oak trees more severely than usual this winter? I'm thinking that it might help them to have less mass to support.
view the full question and answer

Removing fading blooms from iris
June 19, 2007 - Iris maintenance: when blooms begin to fade do I pluck off just the bloom? cut off the entire stalk? leave it alone? Some blooms grow on stalks without leaves and some on stalks with leaves.
view the full question and answer

Corkscrew willow damage to roof in Detroit, MI.
August 13, 2009 - I have a corkscrew willow (Detroit, MI) that is huge and whose branches hang on top of the asphalt shingles of my mobile home. It has now been discovered that these shingles, under the branches, are ...
view the full question and answer

Trimming back freeze damage from Anacacho orchid in Liberty Hill TX
May 17, 2010 - When is it safe to trim back what I think is dead wood on my Anacacho orchid trees (that were hit hard this past winter)? Is there any harm done if I cut back living wood?
view the full question and answer

What about the brown dots on my Silver sage?
June 27, 2008 - During the past year, the leaves on my silver sage bushes around the perimeter of the front of my house have turned yellow in places and there are tiny brown dots on virtually all of the leaves. If I ...
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.