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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.

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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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Thursday - January 17, 2008

From: Bulverde, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Seasonal Tasks, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Trimming native salvias in January
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have heard you can trim Hot Lips, Raspberry and other salvias back severely in January, to about six inches from the ground. Is this correct?

ANSWER:

You are correct. Most native perennials that are not evergreen will profit from having a good trim back in mid-winter. It's a good idea to leave about six inches, so when new growth starts coming up from the roots, you won't think it's an early emerging weed and yank it out. It's also a good idea to keep litter, dead leaves, etc. cleaned away from the bases of your perennials to cut down on the possibility of harmful insect, disease or mildew being harbored in there. And, if you're feeling really industrious, you could always put some nice bark mulch or good compost on the ground around the perennials. Most of the fluids and vitality of the plant have gone down into the root to winter over, with the ground itself helping to keep it warm. Luckily for us, the ground does not freeze in Texas, and with the wintertime care, you will have earlier starts with healthy plants ready to begin blooming.

Some of the red sages, from which the named varieties are probably derived, are Salvia coccinea (blood sage), Salvia greggii (autumn sage), and Salvia roemeriana (cedar sage). Other salvias in blues are Salvia azurea (azure blue sage), and Salvia farinacea (mealycup sage). All these are not only native to North America but are found in Texas, and are excellent choices for your garden.

 


Salvia coccinea

Salvia greggii

Salvia roemeriana

Salvia azurea

Salvia farinacea

 

 

 

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