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

Tuesday - November 05, 2013

From: Corona, CA
Region: California
Topic: Propagation, Transplants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Transplanting Indian Paintbrush in Corona CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a very mature Indian Paintbrush Plant that was becoming too large for the area I had originally planted it in, so I transplanted it to an area much more suited for its size. I reviewed the questions here and found one in Oregon in which you say it will die. I am in Southern California, is there anything I can do to keep it from dying?


First of all, we tried to narrow down what Indian Paintbrush you have growing in Riverside County California. By searching on the genus Castillea in our Native Plant Database, we found 51 species native to North America and 19 to California. By going to the USDA Plant Profile Map on each of those, we found 4 native to Riverside County:

Castilleja foliolosa (Texas indian paintbrush)

Castilleja linariifolia (Wyoming indian paintbrush)

Castilleja miniata (Giant red indian paintbrush)

Castilleja minor ssp. spiralis (Lesser indian paintbrush)

We don't know which of these, if any, are the ones that you wish to transplant but they should all follow basically the same growing rules. You can follow each of the above links to our webpage on that plant to learn their growng conditions. Most of those webpages have the following statement:

"Conditions Comments: Roots grow until they touch the roots of other plants, frequently grasses, then penetrate the roots of these host plants, obtaining a portion of their nutrients. Transplanting paintbrush usually kills it."

This doesn't differentiate over soils, growing conditions or location, but is just a statement of fact about the chemistry of the plant. You could always try transplanting your oversize plant as an experiment and perhaps prove our information wrong. However, these propagation instructions, also from our webpages on Castillea would indicate you will be safer planting seeds near some host plant that produces nitrogen to share with the hemiparasitic Indian Paintbrush.


Description: Sow seeds in fall with seeds of an herbaceous perennial. Bouteloua gracilis has been recommended as a host.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: No treatment.
Commercially Avail: yes"


From the Image Gallery

Texas indian paintbrush
Castilleja foliolosa

Wyoming indian paintbrush
Castilleja linariifolia

Giant red indian paintbrush
Castilleja miniata

Lesser indian paintbrush
Castilleja minor ssp. spiralis

More Transplants Questions

Yellowing leaves on non-native podocarpus Cupertino CA
May 22, 2011 - I recently planted a podacarpus granular and over half the leaves are turning yellow some are dead. What could be the problem? Is there something I can feed it? What should I do? I planted four & the...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting False Gaura in Austin
October 27, 2010 - I am transplanting my false gaura. Do they transplant well, and should I cut them back?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on dutchmans pipe
July 24, 2005 - How do I care for and transplant dutchman pipe?
view the full question and answer

Problems in germination of Asclepias tuberosa in New York
August 31, 2006 - I am a member of the Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College and I need information on Acleptis tuberosa. I am in USDA zone 6. Last year I planted fresh seeds purchased from Johnny's S...
view the full question and answer

Removing leaves before transplanting from Miami
August 27, 2009 - What is good idea to remove some leaves before transplanting a plant??
view the full question and answer

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