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

Monday - December 19, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Planting, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Frost damage to native plants in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello, We bought a number of native plants at this fall's WFC sale and planted them. The recent frost seems to have defoliated our pitcher sage, beautyberry, butterflyweed, and flame acanthus plants (I did cover them them with burlap). Will these recover in spring? Thanks, Raj

ANSWER:

You did a splendid job of selecting plants at our semi-annual Plant Sale, and thanks for coming. Every one of those plants is native to the area, but of course you know that because that is what we sell at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center sales-plants that will survive our sometimes extreme weather and like our soils. All of these plants are deciduous, so it should be no surprise that they are defoliating. If you had them already in the ground the earth around them is the best insulator there is. If they were still in pots when the frosts occurred, the exposure of their roots to the cold might have accelerated the leaf drop but should not have killed them. In fact, it is hard to avoid transplant shock to some degree any time a plant is moved, but we don't think that is a major concern in this case.

All the plants you selected are perennial, which means they will return from their roots in the Spring, if they were properly planted. We hope that you made provisions for  drainage in our clay soils, and you might consider mulching the soil around them, which will improve the soil, hold in moisture, and protect the roots from cold and heat. Of course, even with well cared for native plants, damage is always possible, but we think you have a very good chance of having some beautiful and hardy plants re-emerging in the Spring. If you want any more information, you can follow the plant links below to our webpages on the individual plants.

Salvia azurea (Pitcher sage)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (Flame acanthus)

 

From the Image Gallery


Flame acanthus
Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

Pitcher sage
Salvia azurea

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Flowers for sandy soil and sun in Wharton Co., TX
March 23, 2010 - I live in Wharton County. I am looking for flowers to plant in beds that have sandy soil and are well drained. The area receives sun all day until 5-6 in the afternoon. I would like to have flowers t...
view the full question and answer

Calcium from Eggshells for Ferns?
December 15, 2014 - I was reading recently about beneficial additions to the soil/plant. The first was about soaking used egg shells overnight and then pouring the water onto ferns. They said that the calcium in eggshell...
view the full question and answer

Oak leaf hydrangeas from Edwardsville IL
August 13, 2012 - Hello, I live in West Central Illinois (across the river from St. Louis) and I am considering planting several Oak leaf Hydrangea's in my yard. The location where I would like to plant them is und...
view the full question and answer

Plants for pavilion over fountain in Washington State
December 26, 2008 - I have a tall fountain in a 7 foot square which is surrounded by pavers. Inside the 7' square there is about a 2' mulched soil bed around the center fountain and an iron type pavilion that goes up h...
view the full question and answer

Planting a tulip poplar in Virginia Beach VA
November 10, 2009 - Hi. I would like to plant a Yellow Poplar, 'Tulip Tree' in my front yard. I will not be able to plant this tree until after November 15th. The tree will receive direct sun and will be exposed to hea...
view the full question and answer

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