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?


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

Wednesday - January 27, 2010

From: Crockett, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Should I top my scraggly magnolia tree? No
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


Mr.Smarty Plants, I live in Crockett,Tx. My husband and I just bought this house. In the front yard I have a very tall,scraggly magnolia tree due to trees growing up around it. We have cut some of those trees down and I want to know if I should top the tree by 15+ft? I would rather have a shorter,fuller tree. Would that be ok and when is the best time to do it? She just looks so pitiful..


Mr. Smarty Plants thinks the answers to your questions are NO and NEVER*.

Here are three websites that supply more details to corroborate these answers.

Plant Amnesty

Urban Tree Foundation

Trees Are Good by the International Society of Arboriculture

I suggest that you consult a certified arborist to help you with this problem. The "Trees are Good" website can provide you with information for locating and selecting an arborist  in you area.

 * trimming to clear utility lines could be an exception


More Pruning Questions

Area under live oaks from Austin
October 08, 2012 - We have many live oaks in our mostly shaded half acre. While I have tried to plant mostly native plants, often beneath them, the plants are showered with leathery leaves, acorns and sap, while oak sp...
view the full question and answer

Brown leaves on possumhaw holly in Grandview TX
July 02, 2009 - What would be likely causes for brown leaves on possumhaw holly? We have 2, one was planted in spring 2008, and a slightly larger one planted late winter/early spring this year. Most of the leaves a...
view the full question and answer

Non-native pomegranate failing to fruit from Highland Village TX
October 20, 2012 - Last spring I planted a pomegranate tree (type: Wonderful) which is supposed to produce edible fruit. It had 5 or 6 absolutely beautiful blooms, but each of them dropped off and no sign of fruit. Is...
view the full question and answer

Pruning for native oak in Houston
October 06, 2008 - I have an oak tree, and I was wondering if I prune from the top down, would it get fuller at the bottom? Or can you tell me how to prune it? I have been pruning from the bottom up and it is growing ta...
view the full question and answer

Pruning guidance for Carolina buckthorn from Houston
October 23, 2012 - I have a Carolina Buckthorn in my back patio that I planted in fall 2001. The summer of 2003 the roofers dropped something off the back and broke the top 10-12 inches off. I have tried to train the la...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center