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
3 ratings

Wednesday - February 06, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Select Region
Topic: Non-Natives, Pruning, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Pruning pink skullcap and rock daisy from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have some pink skullcap and rock daisy and other plants in my yard that never entirely die back over the winter. Can you tell me what kind of pruning is appropriate? How far can/should I cut them back? I don't want to kill them, and getting just dead leafless branches out of them is not really practical. Please help!

ANSWER:

This is why Smarty Plants struggles with common names of plants. The same plant, sometimes in several different states or even countries, may have half a dozen different common names. For instance:

From Koala Native Plants on Brachyscome multifida (rock daisy). This is an Australian native and, we presume, not the one you have in your garden

Melampodium leucanthum (Blackfoot daisy) (also called rock daisy)

Perityle lindheimeri (Lindheimer's rockdaisy)

Here is a previous Smarty Plants answer on Pink skullcap from Central Texas Gardener.

After studying our webpages on the two that are native, and the Scutellaria suffretescens (Pink Skullcap) which may or may not be native, we are concluding that all are moderately low-growing perennials which will grow well in Austin.

Our advice on pruning perennials is pretty standard. Even if they are evergreen and certainly if they are not, they can take a good pruning in late winter. We like to leave about 6 inches of stems or branches standing on the ground. New green growth will quickly begin to show at the roots, but the standing branches will remind you that this is not a weed that needs yanking coming up. Because the plant needs leaves to provide food for the plant and blooms to produce seeds to propagate the plant, it will get busy putting on new, more vigorous growth. The plant doesn't care what its name is, it's just doing its thing.

 

From the Image Gallery


Lindheimer's rockdaisy
Perityle lindheimeri

Blackfoot daisy
Melampodium leucanthum

More Non-Natives Questions

Pruning of non-native chocolate mimosa
August 07, 2008 - I have a one year old chocolate mimosa that has grown 2.5 feet in height. It has seven leaf stems two feet from the bottom and only three at the top canopy. The trunk is only three quarters of an inch...
view the full question and answer

Mexican species Orbexilum melanocarpum.
January 04, 2013 - This is not a question; just a note to supplement a previous MSP post answering a query about a source for Orbexilum. The "mountain pea" that the original questioner was asking about is the e...
view the full question and answer

Searching for Acalypha amentacea ssp. wilkesiana (copperleaf)
April 06, 2015 - Some species of Acalypha are natives, but the one I'm looking for is Copper Plant or Acalypha amentacea/wilkesiana. Can you give me a source where I can order seed? When I was kid working at a local ...
view the full question and answer

Is common yarrow a Texas native?
October 16, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Is common yarrow Achillea millefolium a Texas native? Please enlighten me.
view the full question and answer

Japanese beetles in Port Monmouth, NJ
April 08, 2009 - I have searched your web-site in the hopes of not repeating or bothering you with a question not in your field. I am hoping you can help me. I live in Port Monmouth, New Jersey. Last year many of my ...
view the full question and answer

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