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?


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

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


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".


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 Privacy Screening Questions

Screening plant for pool
June 16, 2008 - i am building a pool i have a neighbor whom im trying to shield out of seeing us. i would like to plant an evergreen tree the pool will be used year round. i need an evergreen that wont have an ov...
view the full question and answer

Native plants under trees for privacy barrier in Fairview, TX
April 29, 2009 - I am looking for suggestions on what to plant for a Privacy Barrier. The area in question is a shaded area under a tree line of about 200+ feet long. I am hoping for year round coverage. The canopy...
view the full question and answer

Native shrubs for wildlife and screening in Georgia
December 22, 2008 - I live in Bainbridge, GA. I have 3 acres and want to plant for wildlife. I would like to plant fast growing native shrubs along the 400' of road that will benefit wildlife and shield us from the tr...
view the full question and answer

Is purple bindweed good for a screen growing on a fence?
September 12, 2012 - We cleared a bunch of dead trees and tree limbs (mostly cedars and some oaks) on our semi-rural property in Driftwood and now we're left with an undesirable view onto the neighboring property. We're...
view the full question and answer

Need evergreen privacy screen for Austin, Texas
October 11, 2010 - I need an evergreen privacy screen. I live in southern Travis County and have a 450 ft property line that has a view to about 10 -12 neighbors back yards. I need something that won't be nibbled by ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center