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
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

QUESTION:

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!

ANSWER:

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 Planting Questions

Proper time of year to plant evergreens in New York
October 25, 2008 - Dear Smarty Plants, Is it too late to plant evergreen Thuja, blue spruce and firs in Cleveland, New York? Vicki
view the full question and answer

Lilac bush roots dangerous to house foundations
August 06, 2008 - Are lilac bushes dangerous to the foundation of a house? There is a lovely white-blooming lilac that grows against the house outside my bedroom window. My ex-husband said that the roots would destro...
view the full question and answer

Trees for Socorro NM
June 28, 2012 - I recently moved from Austin to Socorro, NM. I want to add 2 shade trees to my hot, dry garden. I am considering Arizona Cypress, Live Oak (Quercus Fusiformis - yes, they are native in NM, as well a...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in my Nuttall Oak tree in Moore, OK.
July 23, 2009 - I had a Nutall oak tree planted; it is 5 inches in diameter and about 24 feet tall. It was planted in March of this year, leafed out ok; now since June 20th I have had a large quantity of the leaves t...
view the full question and answer

Shade trees for Tucson AZ
May 25, 2012 - I need to plant some "fast growing" trees or shrubs on my southwest yard in order to reduce the heat in my bedroom. What do you suggest? I live in Tucson, Arizona. Thank you in advance. I'm...
view the full question and answer

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