En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - October 21, 2007

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Select Region
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Shaping of native hawthorns
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have three young hawthorns that were propagated from a nearby Blackland prairie stand. If I limb them up, will that encourage them to branch more near the top, or will it just ruin the form altogether? If I prune off lower branches, by what percentage can they be pruned without harming them? They have a spindly main trunk between 5 and 6 feet tall, and some of the lower lateral branches are approaching 1/2 inch in diameter. I've had them in the ground a couple of years. They resemble the hawthorn that is growing in the Wildflower Center's demonstration garden, which I understand is a "volunteer" hawthorn of unknown parentage. I don't know the genetic line of my hawthorns. I'd like the branching to become thicker near the top and have a less-gangly small tree.

ANSWER:

There are a LOT of hawthorns native to North America. Several are distributed naturally only in Texas; among these are Crataegus texana (Texas hawthorn), Crataegus turnerorum (Turner's hawthorn), and Crataegus viridis var. desertorum (desert hawthorn). Crataegus tracyi (Tracy's hawthorn) is found on the Edwards Plateau and west. These are all good possibilities for which hawthorn you have.

However, it really doesn't matter, in terms of pruning or shaping. One of the charms of the hawthorn is its rounded top and draping fronds of leaves and blooms but we can understand your not wanting it to become a bush. Certainly, lower branches may be pruned off as they emerge. Just be careful not to take off too much foliage at once, as those leaves are vital for nutrition to the plant. Wait a month or so to do this pruning, to allow the tree to get as deep in dormancy as possible. Your hawthorn could get to be up to 25 to 40 feet tall, so don't feel you have to do all the shaping at once. A tree that's only been in the ground two years is pretty young, so taking just a branch or two off this time would be a good idea. It won't necessarily contribute to the top getting fuller, but it will give that appearance as you develop a longer trunk.

 


Crataegus texana

 

 

More Trees Questions

Wild native trees with orange blooms
March 30, 2012 - What is the wild native tree that is blooming orange blooms - as you drive down the road thru Chappel Hill, and Brenham area. I've never seen these before when we went viewing bluebonnets - however,...
view the full question and answer

Trees for small spaces from San Jose CA
May 09, 2011 - What tree can you plant in a corner of a yard 3ft from a fence? What is the best shade tree for a small yard with a pool?
view the full question and answer

Willows native to Wisconsin
July 01, 2005 - I have a small garden center in the far northern reaches of Wisconsin....and I specialize in native varieties for up here. I also help folks with lake shore restoration and preservation. There was...
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

Should I Prune Oak Trees in February in Wisconsin?
February 17, 2011 - I need to cut some oak branches but am worried about oak wilt. You told an earlier questioner not to cut in February. I live in Wisconsin and it has been very cold lately. Am I okay to cut the bran...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center