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

Monday - May 17, 2010

From: Liberty Hill, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Seasonal Tasks, Trees
Title: Trimming back freeze damage from Anacacho orchid in Liberty Hill TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


When is it safe to trim back what I think is dead wood on my Anacacho orchid trees (that were hit hard this past winter)? Is there any harm done if I cut back living wood?


Bauhinia lunarioides (Texasplume) is not shown to be growing in this area of Central Texas on this USDA Plant Profile map, but rather south and west of here.

From the webpage on this plant in our Native Plant Database:

"Native Habitat: Canyons & arroyos in limestone hills. Known only from canyons and arroyos in limestone hills in Kinney, Presidio, and Gillespie or Llano counties. Well-drained sand, loam, limestone."

"Conditions Comments: Does best when planted on the south side of a building, protected from winter winds."

We know this tree can and does grow in Central Texas, but the whole state has had harsh weather this year. Since it is not native to this part of Texas and still rather rare, we have very little experience in its habits and problems. Don't try fertilizing, right now the roots are trying to recover from the cold and do not need to be prodded into new growth by the fertilizer. Spring-flowering shrubs bloom on last season's growth and should be pruned soon after they bloom. It could be that you will have to cut it back to the ground because of being frozen back, but you might as well give it time to show some life and not prune during hot weather, always a problem in Texas. Since you have suckers, you know the roots are alive. Make sure the roots are in a well-drained situation; like many desert plants, this one cannot tolerate wet feet. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Bauhinia lunarioides

Bauhinia lunarioides

Bauhinia lunarioides

Bauhinia lunarioides





More Pruning Questions

Removing fading blooms from iris
June 19, 2007 - Iris maintenance: when blooms begin to fade do I pluck off just the bloom? cut off the entire stalk? leave it alone? Some blooms grow on stalks without leaves and some on stalks with leaves.
view the full question and answer

Should I use wound paint when pruning my live oak tree?
February 04, 2010 - When trimming live oak branches, is it best to coat the wound on the tree? I have been doing this but have recently heard that it can actually be bad for the tree.
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

Clipping of beans from newly planted Tecoma stans
April 22, 2008 - I purchased a Esperanza Plant in a pot from a nursery in April of 2008. We planted it and it is doing fine, but came with blooms and beans. Do I need to do clip or prune the beans at this stage of g...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Citrus Suckers
October 06, 2014 - Mr. Smarty Plants, you are the only person that has "not" insisted that the little balls on Satsuma and lemon trees were clumps of bugs. They are surely what you described in the answer to my previo...
view the full question and answer

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