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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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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. 

 

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