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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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.

"Propagation

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

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