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

Thursday - November 11, 2010

From: Homewood, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Planting, Pruning
Title: Will suckering of coralberry be a problem in Homewood AL?
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I am considering planting Symphoricarpos orbiculatus in the yard of the home I just purchased. I am interested in attracting wildlife to my yard and covering over a stump with a 3' diameter. My only concern is its suckering habits. Will surrounding the plants with landscape edging be sufficient to contain them? Thanks!


Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry) is a native to Alabama. From our Native Plant Database, here is a comment on its suckering properties: "Coralberry forms extensive colonies and spreads by rooting at the nodes where it touches the ground." A landscape barrier of stone, etc. would not communicate anything to the plant, only marking, for you, the spot beyond which you did not want the plant to sucker. As the long, supple branches arch over, they will ignore whatever barrier you have put in and droop to the ground outside it, where they will root.

We would suggest that you use tip pruning to keep those branches from crossing your barrier. We think a barrier would still be a good idea, as it will help you remember where you DON'T want the plant to go. This is not something you can go off and forget about, just pruning once a year or something like that. Once those suckers have rooted in the ground, you have another shrub growing, probably where you don't want it, and you will be fighting with the suckers from the new bush as well as the old.

For the purposes you have stated, attracting wildlife and covering an old stump, we believe this is an ideal plant, but you will have to stay after it, year round. Just about any plant is going to try to reproduce itself, once it has found a good place to grow. The birds that eat the berries and drop the seeds somewhere else, the wind that blows seeds to a different location are other ways you can get more bushes. Our database page says Coralberry makes a good woodland understory plant. If that is not the yard you had in mind, we suggest you select something else.


More Pruning Questions

Mountain Laurel suffering from Spring freeze
May 12, 2015 - I have a 4 1/2 ft Texas Mountain Laurel shrub in current location for several years. A hard freeze this spring killed every leaf on the tree, but the stems remained green. My other smaller Mt. Laure...
view the full question and answer

Pruning non-native Chinese fringe flower from Austin
June 24, 2013 - When is the best time of year to prune Plum Delight? And how severely can it be cut back?
view the full question and answer

Making Ruellia nudiflora thicker in pot from Tucson AZ
June 25, 2012 - Can Ruellia Nudiflora be propagated in the same pot as the parent plant? Can it be cut back to stimulate a denser plant? I have plants in several pots and would like to 'thicken' the plant. Tha...
view the full question and answer

How can I prune my Texas Mountain Laurels to be more tree-like?
March 24, 2011 - I planted several Texas Mountain Laurels last spring and would like to train them to be more tree-like rather than shrub-like. Each is around 36" tall with 5-10 trunks coming from the ground. Where...
view the full question and answer

Pruning of native perennial blooming plants
March 22, 2008 - Hello - I am still a newbie at using Native Texas plants (but loving them!), and I need pruning assistance. When (and how much) do I prune: hot lips salvia, hummingbird bush (anisthcanthus wrightii...
view the full question and answer

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