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
3 ratings

Thursday - June 26, 2008

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Pruning, Trees
Title: Non-branching mimosa tree
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a Mimosa Tree, just about 2 years old, grown from seed. The problem with it is that it has not branched out, it looks like one long branch growing out of the ground, about 5 feet if stood straight up. Is there anything I can do to shape like a normal Mimosa Tree?

ANSWER:

There are mimosas and mimosas. Two native trees that are called mimosas are Mimosa texana (Texas mimosa) and Desmanthus illinoensis (Illinois bundleflower). However, we're betting the one you refer to is Albizia julibrissi, a non-native of North America, instead native to an area ranging from Iran to Japan. All three are in the Fabaceae or pea family,but there the resemblance ends. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we promote the use of plants native to North America because they need less fertilizer, water and maintenance growing in their natural habitats, and thus are better for the environment. The problem we had in trying to find the answer to your question is that most websites were more interested in getting rid of the mimosa than getting it to grow normally.

Plant Conservation Alliance Least Wanted Silk Tree.

USDA Forest Service Albizia julibrissin. The USDA Forest Service is usually at least neutral about non-natives but it doesn't have much good to say, and no information on how to make a single trunk branch.

But you didn't ask us to evaluate the value of your tree; you asked how to make it branch. Ordinarily, we would recommend pruning just below a bud area to promote growth of new branches. However, what you have now is a single leader, and most experts strongly advise against pruning leaders. You shouldn't even consider pruning now, in the heat of the summer, but wait until winter has cleaned off the foliage and permitted you to see the skeleton of the tree. By then, perhaps you will be able to see a branch radiating out from the leader that would make an acceptable crotch for the tree. This article from the University of Minnesota Extension on Pruning Trees and Shrubs seems to us to have the best diagrams and instructions for dealing with a young tree. You need to be aware that the mimosa is basically a weak tree, and a storm or even a strong wind could snap that thin leader in two. If that happens, we would advise you to start over with a stronger, native tree.

 

More Pruning Questions

Will a cut back yucca grow back in Lockbourne OH?
October 28, 2009 - I live in Ohio and recently I cut back all my plants to prepare for winter. I am wondering if my Yuccas will grow back. I cut them to ground level so only a little bit of the leaf is showing. I was...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Pigeonberry
February 06, 2013 - Should pigeonberry be pruned back to the ground this time of year or should a few inches of stem be left? This is my first spring with them in the garden and I've not found any reference material tha...
view the full question and answer

Late winter pruning of native Texas Sage
January 27, 2005 - I have several Texas Sage bushes that have started to get very woody and have growth only on the top. This seems to have led to a definite listing to one side. Should I trim these to the ground or...
view the full question and answer

Care for lantana in Katy TX
December 04, 2010 - Hello. I live in Katy TX and have a number of Lantana shrubs. How and when should they be cut back?
view the full question and answer

Center of Yucca filamentosa looking rotten in Howell, NJ
May 31, 2009 - I live in central NJ. I planted some Adam's Needle Yucca in my garden around 5 years ago. Since then, they kept growing and ended up developing three trunks off of the main trunk. I noticed recentl...
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