Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
1 rating

Wednesday - September 22, 2010

From: Lucas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Container Gardens, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Green blooms on Cedar Sage in Lucas TX
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

I have two Cedar Sage (Salvia roemeriana) one purchased from your plant sale and one from a local nursery planted in part shade in the Dallas area. They seem to be quite happy and are blooming but on both the blooms are green and insignificant, not red as pictured. Any suggestions? Wrong ph? Too much/not enough sun?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks you are on the right track with your questions about soil pH and sun.  Salvia roemeriana (Cedar sage) likes alkaline soils with a pH greater than 7.2. It is one of several plants that have evolved to grow in the shade and leaf mulch of junipers. It can become stressed and stunted in continuous full sun and has a hard time perpetuating itself under deciduous hardwoods. I don't know the specifics of your situation regarding sun or shade and the presence or absence of deciduous hardwoods, but I strongly suspect that the soil pH in your area is lower than 7.2.

Another obstacle you are facing is that Collin County, wherein Lucas is located, is outside the normal range of distribution for Salvia roemeriana. This link is a map showing its normal range according to the USDA: County distribution of Salvia roemeriana.

Now, just because a plant is outside its normal range and doesn't have perfect soil and sun doesn't mean it won't grow. As you say, yours are quite happy and blooming. But, when you combine all these factors, a plant may not perform to its full potential.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

1. Quit your job, sell your house and relocate to an area where cedar sage is found naturally. OK, Mr. Smarty Plants doesn't really think you are willing to move for the sake of a plant, but it is an alternative.

2. Try growing your cedar sage in containers. In a container, you can determine soil pH by your selection of growing medium and you can place the container in a favorable light setting. Here is a how to article on container gardening with native plants.

Finally, here is a picture of cedar sage in bloom. You can see why the hummingbirds and butterflies like it.


Salvia roemeriana

 

 

 

More Butterfly Gardens Questions

Flowers that attract Queen butterflies
August 17, 2014 - Walking into the cloud of Queen butterflies around my Gregg's Mistflowers is one of the coolest things I've ever experienced, so I started wondering how I could prolong this "visitation". Can you...
view the full question and answer

Maintenance of milkweed from Austin
September 12, 2013 - I help plant and maintain a Monarch Waystation Garden in San Leanna, Texas (South Austin). Should milkweed plants be cut back during the winter? Last year we cut them back a bit late and some died c...
view the full question and answer

Amending soil for butterfly garden in Houston
April 01, 2013 - My girl scout troop will be planting a butterfly garden at a middle school in Houston. In researching plants to use, we have come across some such as echinacea, rose vervain, galliarda and Texas gay...
view the full question and answer

Getting milkweed seeds into seed mixes from Milwaukee WI
February 07, 2014 - My husband and I are concerned about the Monarch butterfly migration and have started an effort to get milkweed planted along some bike trails here in Wisconsin. This made me think of Ladybird Johnso...
view the full question and answer

Host plant for Northern Pearly Eye butterfly
March 25, 2008 - Can we add to the host plant information for Elymus hystrix (Bottlebrush grass)? The grass is host plant for the Northern Pearly Eye butterfly (Enodia anthedon). It would be great to share this info...
view the full question and answer

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