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
15 ratings

Wednesday - March 10, 2010

From: Burnet, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Poisonous Plants
Title: Pruning the leaves of Sago Palm.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Is it a cardinal sin to remove all the sago palm branches? This winter they were so badly scorched by the cold that hardly a frond went unaffected. So I cut them all off as I needed to get around the base and remulch and see what was going on with the dirt. Sure enough, there were armadillo holes all around the area. I was also wanting to raise their canopy some. These are all well-established plants. But now I see where there are cautions not to cut back all the fronds, even if affected. Can you please respond as I am losing sleep over this? Even though it is too late to undo the deed, I thought the new growth would just come on and it would be like any other type of a palmlike thing; just give more of a trunk. Thank you if you can tell me all is not lost.

ANSWER:

The sago palm is a popular ornamental plant used in landscaping in central Texas, and many of the ones in the area took a hit from the freezing weather this winter. The reason for this is partly because they're not from around here. The plant, Cycas revoluta, is native to Japan and southeast Asia. It can survive down to 15 degrees fahrenheit, but not without some damage.
The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants, and landscapes. This leaves sago palms outside our area of focus and expertise.
However, I have included two links that will give you more information about sago palms , and tips for pruning them .  You should be aware that these plants are toxic to humans and pets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Controlling oak suckers in Austin
June 24, 2012 - We have 2 live oak trees that are sprouting shoots all around the surrounding area. We would like to plant some grass and would like to remedy this first. We have mowed the shoots and still they jus...
view the full question and answer

Pruning buttonbush from Pottsville PA
December 10, 2013 - In a formally planted park, a small area has become swampy. I have choosen to plant it with wet tolerant native plants. I would appreciate any suggestions on pruning the buttonbush [Cephalanthus occ...
view the full question and answer

Should black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) plants be cut back
May 02, 2007 - I have black-eyed susan plants that were beautiful last year and flowered for a long time. Do they need to be cut back and if so, how much?
view the full question and answer

When Should I Prune Texas Sage?
July 07, 2016 - How and when do you prune Texas sage to encourage thicker foliage?
view the full question and answer

Pruning of Burning Bush in Missouri
October 15, 2008 - I live in MO and am pretty sure I have burning bushes on either side of my deck. My question is that they are huge and overgrown but I feel if I cut them lower and shape the sides up I will be left w...
view the full question and answer

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