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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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Friday - March 14, 2008

From: Santa barbara, CA
Region: California
Topic: Pruning
Title: Branching on plants
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Hi Mr SmartyPlants, I would like to cause my cerus peruvinesus (sp?) to branch low to the ground and another plant to branch higher up..what causes branching & how can I duplicate this?


Not even Google could find the plant by the name you gave us, but after playing around a little bit, we discovered Cereus peruvianus, sometimes called the "night-blooming cereus." This is an upright cactus plant, originating in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the promotion and propagation of plants native to North America; therefore, this plant (if it's the plant you're talking about) is somewhat out of our area of expertise. However, we did find a couple of websites that might help you out. The first one is Cereus Peruvianus-The Least and Best Known Cactus. The other website is a page of images of Cereus peruvianus.

Your second question, on branching and how to duplicate it, I'm afraid we're not going to be much help there, either. Are you talking about a woody shrub or tree? Another cactus? Generally, speaking, plants branch where they wish to, they can't be trained to put out a branch where one is wanted. What you can do is trim off unwanted branches to expose more trunk, at least on a woody plant. Since we didn't give you the information you wanted, here are two suggestions: (1) If, after looking at the pictures of the Cereus peruvianus, you don't feel that is the plant you are talking about, perhaps you could send us a picture and see if we can identify it. There are instructions for sending a digital picture in the lower right hand corner of the "Ask Mr. Smarty Plants" page. (2) If you have a specific type of plant you want to try to change or control the branching on, you might let us know what that is, and we'll see if we can find some help for you on that issue.


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