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

Looking for Manzanita (Mt. Diablo variety)
April 19, 2009 - Hi, We live in the Alhambra Valley area; in the country between Martinez and Lafayette/Orina. Can you tell me where I can purchase Manzanita, preferably Mt. Diablo variety if possible? I've aske...
view the full question and answer

Protecting live oaks when removing jasmine in Austin
December 03, 2010 - Thank you for your answer to my question of eliminating a 25-year-old bed of Asian Jasmine. I have another question. There is a stand of live oak trees in this bed and as we are digging out the jasmi...
view the full question and answer

Live oak trees dropping leaves in clumps
December 08, 2009 - We have several large mature Live Oak trees in our Austin TX neighborhood. Now that the rains have come back and the acorns are falling, two of our four trees are also dropping large amounts of leave...
view the full question and answer

Removal of live oaks leaves on lawn in Austin
October 11, 2011 - We have about a half inch or so of mostly live oak leaves still on the ground which I thought was good root protection and also holds in moisture. There is a small group of people in our condo subdi...
view the full question and answer

Why are my Junipers turning brown in San Antonio?
May 11, 2009 - My Texas mountain cedars (junipers, I know) are turning brown, limb by limb. What is the problem and how do I save what looks like a dying tree.
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center