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Thursday - August 06, 2015

From: Ft. Worth , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Shrubs
Title: Planting Flame Acanthus in Texas
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I recently purchased three flame acanthus in 1 qt. pots. I had planned to hold these in a shaded spot for planting once it cools off, but the plants are 2 1/2 to 3 ft. tall. Should I cut them back, plant them now as is, or cut them back and plant them now?

ANSWER:

Flame acanthus (Anisocanthus quadrifdus var. wrightii) ia a great Texas native shrub.

Here's what is on the wildflower.org website: Native from west and south-central Texas into adjacent northern Mexico, Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii is a spreading, 3 to 5 ft. deciduous shrub with exfoliating bark; red-orange, tubular flowers; and light-green, lanceolate leaves.

Its brilliant summer-to-fall blooms, cheerful green foliage, pale bark, and ability to attract hummingbirds have made it increasingly popular in landscapes. Though found in the wild mostly in rocky, calcareous soils, it is adaptable both to the heavy soils of Houston and to the drying, confined conditions of pots. It is drought-tolerant and can survive low temperatures as far north as Dallas, though only the roots will survive the winters there and the whole plant will reemerge each year like a perennial from the ground. Though the attractive branches are somewhat brittle, it takes well to shearing and can make a dense, low hedge. As with other xeric plants within its range, rain will trigger a flush of blooms, covering the plant in fiery orange. In favorable conditions, it will seed out readily. This drought- and cold-tolerant shrub will adapt to a variety of soils and does well in patio pots. It blooms best in full sun but will tolerate light shade. As with many other xeric plants, rain triggers blooms. Pruning in winter encourages more blooms and a compact shape. Where it dies to the ground in the winter (meaning leaves won't resprout from the branches but the whole plant regrows from the ground each year, in the manner of a perennial), cut back to the ground before spring.

So to answer your question ... since the plants are loving the shaded location that they are in right now, cut them back by 1/2 and leave them there until late fall, then plant them into their permanent site. You may need to prune them again at planting time.

 

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