En EspaÑol

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?


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

Saturday - May 30, 2009

From: St. Augustine, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Pruning of wax myrtle in St. Augustine FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford


How severely can we prune our wax myrtle? It had grown 10 feet tall and very spindly and we want it to be a border hedge in front of the preserve in back of our yard.


On our webpage on Morella cerifera (wax myrtle), this description of the plant is given: "A wispy, 6-12 ft., multi-trunked, evergreen shrub, southern bayberry or wax myrtle can reach 20 ft. in height." The word "wispy" rather infers that this plant is not going to grow into a dense bush. It can certainly be pruned and that might induce more growth in the center of the plant, and add some density, but don't count too much on it. It would be better for the plant if you did not prune it in the heat of summer (like now, in Florida), but wait for December or January when the plant is semi-dormant. When a plant is pruned, the first thing that happens is new growth appears where the pruning has occurred, which means it will start growing up again. We would recommend some gradual shaping, lowering its height, and giving it some fertilizer to encourage more leafing out.

Morella cerifera

Morella cerifera



More Shrubs Questions

Is Sabal minor juglone tolerant?
October 13, 2014 - Is Sabal minor or any other small and shade tolerant palm juglone tolerant? I’d like to plant one in an area near a pecan tree but I am not sure if they will play well together.
view the full question and answer

Plants for dry conditions and clay soils in Georgia
June 25, 2007 - I need a bush or plant that I can plant next to a creek that requires no maintenance to cover exposed roots and underbrush caused by rushing water whenever the creeks rises with large downpours. We b...
view the full question and answer

Berries on cultivars of Ilex verticillata from Oak Park, IL
February 19, 2014 - I have three ilex verticillata cultivars (2 Nana, 1 Jim Dandy) planted on the west side of my house in a very shady site (there's a mature over-spreading hackberry on the parkway just to the west and...
view the full question and answer

Small shrubs for roof garden in Washington DC
February 01, 2009 - I am looking for a hardy evergreen shrub for a roof garden in DC. Needs to be 3-4 feet tall, evergreen, dense, survive the extreme wind, cold and heat.
view the full question and answer

Native plants for a barrier hedge
October 13, 2008 - Is there a native hedge I can plant to provide privacy? I have hostile neighbors behind me and would rather plant a hedge than put up a fence. I looked through the Virginia native species and didn'...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center