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
1 rating

Monday - February 13, 2006

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Vines
Title: Pruning time for Smoke Tree (Cotinus obovatus)
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton


Gentlemen: I have a Texas Smoke Tree (Cotinus obovatus). It's doing very well & I wish to prune it before its leaves come out. I understand there are a few trees you don't prune, among them birch. I pruned a limb on my smoke tree last year & it bled & bled & bled. The limb I want to remove is near 3" across. Can I remove it?


You need to wait until summer or early fall to prune your Smoke Tree (Cotinus obovatus. Now (mid-February) is an especially bad time to prune because the sap is just starting to run and the wound is likely to bleed profusely. You should wait at least until after the tree flowers to remove the limb. Michigan State University has an excellent article on pruning trees.


More Pruning Questions

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

Freeze damage on perennials in Austin
December 10, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, The recent hard freeze in Austin really took a toll on the plants I put in the ground in early October. The leaves of my salvia, lantana and esperanza are completely black! ...
view the full question and answer

Northern Catalpa Tree Doing Poorly
July 02, 2014 - One of our Northern Catalpa trees appears to be dying. It is about 28 feet tall and this year only about 1/3 of it is producing leaves. It is next to our largest Catalpa tree (about 65 feet tall and a...
view the full question and answer

Care of Spanish Dagger (Yucca treculeana) after blooming
May 27, 2007 - I live in Austin and have a 5 ft spanish dagger in my backyard. Now that it has bloomed and the flowers have withered in May, should I cut off the center stalk or will it bloom again from the same st...
view the full question and answer

Storm damage to native sweet bay magnolias in Kentucky
February 04, 2009 - Can you please share information on storm damage to sweet bay magnolias; if the top is broken off can the tree maintain its natural shape or will the sides begin to grow more than the top; i.e., growt...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center