Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - October 02, 2009

From: Duncanville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Shaping cenizo in Duncanville TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Our Silverado Sage, which we expected to be 4' to 5' high and wide based on the label when we purchased it about 10 years ago, is nearly 7' tall and very random in shape (not the evenly rounded shape that a healthy Silverado Sage should have). It is blooming profusely and in all other ways appears healthy. What is the best way to prune it and encourage a more round shape as it grows back? And when is the best time to prune?

ANSWER:

Silverado Sage is a trade name for Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush), also called cenizo. While native to west and south Texas, in desert areas, it is not native to north central Texas. However, if you have had it for 10 years, it obviously is doing fine where it is. Here are the Growing Conditions for this plant:

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 tend to bloom in conjunction with rainfall. The ashy appearance of the leaves is due to the millions of tiny hairs covering them. Cenizo is easy to grow so long as it has good drainage. It makes a good screen or hedge. There are many nice color selections and cultivars. Susceptible to cotton root rot. Humidity and high night temperatures are lethal. Cultivated cenizos tend to become leggier with fewer blooms than in nature; tip prune to increase density. Cenizos should not be fertilized or over-watered. Drought- and heat-tolerant.

Notice the warnings about fertilizing and over-watering; that could be what caused it to grow more than you expected, but it could also be the downfall of the plant. Also, you will see that tip pruning is recommended to increase density. We are going to give you some pictures of cenizo in its natural state, so you can see that it, like other plants, grows as it pleases and doesn't read the nursery labels. You should prune this bush gradually, not whack it down to a shape you like. Trimming it too severely for shape will cause you to lose a lot of the gorgeous pinky-purple blooms. Since it is evergreen and capable of blooming year-round, we recommend beginning the gradual pruning now, and continue until you get the shape you want, and then continue tip pruning for density and shape. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery


Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

 

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Hail damage to Cenizo in Austin
August 03, 2009 - We have some Texas sage Silverado. After the latest hail, they look very sad. If about the half of plant is OK and the other half looks dried/dead?, should we prune the dried half? Are they ever comin...
view the full question and answer

Care for cultivar of native Bignonia capreolata
February 05, 2008 - I planted Dragon Lady Cross Vines at the end of the fall last year. When would be the best time to trim them. I live in the Dallas area. They look kind of beat up right now and I thought if I trimmed...
view the full question and answer

Should wax myrtles (Morella cerifera) be pruned?
April 26, 2007 - We planted Wax Myrtles in our backyard as a wall for privacy from the lot behind ours. Should we prune or cut back the tops periodically to get more fully developed bushes or let them grow naturally?
view the full question and answer

Failure of older branches on Bauhinia lunarioides to thrive
April 27, 2008 - We planted a sapling of the Anacacho Orchid Tree (Bauhinia lunarioides) winter (Jan, Feb?) and now it has leaves and blooms - but only off of new branches near its trunk, as the old branches haven't ...
view the full question and answer

When to prune Texas Coral Honeysuckle in Iredell, TX?
January 31, 2012 - When can I prune Texas coral honeysuckle? It needs to be pruned so that it will fill out. Also, how much do I prune it? Thank you,
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.