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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - December 20, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Trimming American beautyberry in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have recently developed an interest in plants and since I work for a country club taking care of all the House & Grounds Maintenance, the landscaping is certainly a part of my work. I have a question in regards to some American Beautyberry: Do you have to trim it down to the ground or leave it alone when it drops all the leaves? I hope my question makes sense.

ANSWER:

For some reason, perhaps a combination of heat and then sudden frost, the Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) in the Austin area have been unusually spectacular this year. Certainly we would not trim it until the birds or time had removed all those gorgeous berries. As to regular care or pruning, here is an excerpt from our Native Plant Database:

"Conditions Comments: American beautyberry is a wonderful, large understory shrub with a naturally loose and graceful arching form. In the fall and early winter, the branches are laden with magenta purple (sometimes white) berry clusters that look spectacular as the leaves drop in autumn. It is useful as a screen in swampy or wooded locations or under shade trees in a garden setting. It can be cut to 12 inches above the base each winter to encourage more compact growth, flowers and fruit. It can also be left to mature naturally into a tall woody shrub. The shrub may temporarily defoliate and lose developing fruit during periods of prolonged summer drought."

In summary, this is a beautiful, wildlife-friendly, native plant. The degree to which you prune is pretty much a judgment call, concerning whether you want it low and compact or a larger shrub. But the pruning time, either way, is certainly late Fall or early Winter.  

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Seeds of agave attenuata from San Diego CA
April 16, 2012 - After the agave attenuata bloom dried up there are seeds like thing hanging on the foxtail; do I leave it until it dies or do I chop that down. Are those seeds for propagation. The leaves of the plan...
view the full question and answer

Carolina Jasmine failing to turn green in Pleasant Garden NC
April 26, 2011 - We planted Carolina Jasmine last year and it did great. This Spring we only have about 2-3 small green leaves beginning on the vines. We did not cut them back in the Fall. Is it time for them to be tu...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of Texas Mountain Laurel
April 15, 2008 - My +/- 4 yr old Tx. Mountain Laurel, has never bloomed. It is in full sun. I sometimes (minimal) fertilize it. I've pretty much planted it and let it grow. Its been pruned back last year when som...
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of yucca plants in Blanco, TX
May 12, 2009 - How does a person get rid of Yucca plants? We have four fig trees that do not bear figs, what do we need to do? We live in SE Blanco County, Texas.
view the full question and answer

Cutting back perennials in PA
July 25, 2011 - Can you pinch back echinacea in the spring to produce a shorter plant? I have some that get too tall and fall over.
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