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
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

Decorative Trees for Scenic Bench in Fairhope IL
June 10, 2012 - I am looking for a recommendation for a pair of small trees (does not grow taller than 18-20 feet) that can provide shade on either side of a stone bench. The site is in full sun, western exposure an...
view the full question and answer

When to prune Texas betony (Stachys coccinea)
May 28, 2007 - I bought Texas Betony plants several years ago at Wildflower Days. They are thriving, but a bit leggy. Somewhere I read that they should be cut back several times during the year. Now I can't find...
view the full question and answer

Sad Germanders in Johnson City Texas
September 16, 2011 - I have some grey bush germanders that never seem to do well although they did at first when I planted them four years ago. They have sun and dappled shade on the south side of the house. A friend in ...
view the full question and answer

Trimming Texas mountain laurel in Austin
August 27, 2009 - Is there a specific time to trim established mountain laurels? Should I cut off the dried seed pods since they are weighing down the branches?
view the full question and answer

Freeze-back of Hamelia patens in winter in Texas
October 03, 2008 - Will the hamelia patens freeze back in the winter ?
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