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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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Wednesday - June 29, 2011

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Failure to bloom of Salvia greggii from San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We bought Salvia greggii at the Wildflower Center Plant Sale three years ago and planted them in a well drained area. We cut them back early in the year as recommended at Go Native U classes. However,they are not blooming at all this year and bloomed very little last year? Could this be because of the drought like conditions we are having or do you recommend we move the plants next fall/winter to an area that has more sun .. now they are in a dappled shade area .. probably half a day sun.

ANSWER:

We can think of three reasons, besides the very severe drought and heat we are having, why your Salvia greggii (Autumn sage) is not blooming up to expectations.

The first, which you have already mentioned, has to do with sun exposure. According to our webpage on this plant, it requires full sun, which we consider to be 6 hours or more of sun a day.

The second suspect is that you are taking care of it too well. Native plants in their natural habitat, which yours appear to be, do not need fertilizer. Over-fertilizing can cause more growth and leaves, and fewer blooms. One of the reasons we recommend native plants is because they require less intervention.

And the third reason: Again on our webpage we found this information:

Maintenance: Trim or pinch tips continuously for nonstop blooming.

This is a good habit to maintain with any blooming plant. Every plant has the built-in imperative to reproduce itself. It does this by seeding. The plant must first bloom to make seeds. In this rather difficult weather situation, plants will do just what they have to in order to survive. When the first blooms have done their job, seeds have been dropped, the plant conserves energy by not putting out any more blooms.

 

From the Image Gallery


Autumn sage
Salvia greggii

Autumn sage
Salvia greggii

Autumn sage
Salvia greggii

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