Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - November 16, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Trimming of turkscap
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a Mexican Turk's cap, it is in its second year of growth and is doing well. However, I feel a need to prune it? do I need to?

ANSWER:

Both Malvaviscus arboreus (wax mallow) and Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow), are referred to as turkscap, and both have "Mexican apple" as another of their common names. We found no plant called "Mexican turkscap" in any of our research sources, and presume that is a name given it by a plant retailer to make it sound more attractive. Since turkscap is deciduous, we have always chosen to cut it down to about 6 inches above the ground after it becomes dormant. This helps to mark the place where the new growth will be coming up in the Spring, and also serves the purpose of refreshing the plant. We did find, on our page for  Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow), this suggestion for the care of the plant:

"Maintenance: To keep at a desirable height and shape, prune back after a couple years. Can be cut back to give the appearance of a ground cover, though it doesn't spread by either rhizomes or stolons but by layering. Will bloom even when cut short."

Conclusion: You can probably do pretty much whatever you like. This plant tends to get leggy and tall, and is pretty unattractive after the leaves fall off, so trimming back from time to time is a good idea. 

 

More Pruning Questions

Tree with no invasive roots for Los Angeles
July 24, 2011 - I have a large in ground planter sharing the outside wall (on south/east corner) of my house in east LA 90032. I would like to find a tree that grows quite tall (2 story building), but grows roots ver...
view the full question and answer

Care for penstemons in South Jordan, UT
June 21, 2009 - I have Firecracker Penstemons and they bloomed beautifully this year. How do I trim them and when? Will they continue to bloom throughout the summer?
view the full question and answer

How can I prune my Texas Mountain Laurels to be more tree-like?
March 24, 2011 - I planted several Texas Mountain Laurels last spring and would like to train them to be more tree-like rather than shrub-like. Each is around 36" tall with 5-10 trunks coming from the ground. Where...
view the full question and answer

Removing a non-native windmill palm from Austin
February 27, 2013 - I have a fairly good size windmill palm (about 15ft high) that is planted too close to the house. I also don't like having to constantly remove its fronds as they block a walkway. Is there a good wa...
view the full question and answer

Trimming of dead foliage on trunks of yucca in California
December 21, 2008 - There is a Yucca plant in the back yard. I want to know how to get the old foliage that has died off of the trunks, it looks kind of ragged. The foliage is about three feet from the green. Can you ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.