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?

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
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 - November 15, 2010

From: Surprise, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Sprouts at base of holly in Surprise AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Friends have recently planted a holly tree in their front yard. They live in AZ and there is no grass (only rock) around their tree. It was planted as a fairly large tree (about 18 feet).My question is, around the base (5 foot radius) the tree is sprouting. Is this common. What can they do to keep the growth down, this is a winter home that they don't spend much time at, and it makes the home look unlived in and messy. Thank you for your time.

ANSWER:

You did not say which holly was being grown in Arizona, We checked in our Native Plant Database for all the Ilex (holly) genus that grow natively in Arizona and found there are none. That may be the first clue; plants that produce sprouts coming up from their roots are often stressed by environmental conditions and just trying to put out some survivors to carry on when the main plant dies. Growing in conditions hostile, or at least non-native, to a plant can certainly produce stress in that plant.

There is one plant with "holly" in its common name, Atriplex hymenelytra (Desert holly), that is native to Arizona. However, it is not a true holly although this USDA Plant Profile does show it as native to the Surprise area. You could follow the plant link and see if this looks like the plant your friends have in their yard.

Nativity aside, if the house is not being lived in year-round and watering is not being done in the hot weather, the plant is just trying to get some leaves out on those sprouts to help survival if the leaves on the shrub proper shrivel up and die. About the only treatment for the sprouts is to cut them off, and keep cutting them off, near their base. You can't use a poison on the sprouts because they share the roots of the bush for nutrients and water. We are afraid that the choice of that plant for those particular circumstances probably have doomed it. We realize the plant was probably purchased locally, on the assumption that if it was sold there, it would thrive there. Unfortunately, too often this is not the case.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Atriplex hymenelytra


Atriplex hymenelytra

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Cuttings from beautyberry from Stockport OH
May 22, 2014 - My beauty berry is starting a new growth about 2ft from main plant, can I dig this and part of the root without hurting the main part, if so, when?
view the full question and answer

Roots in foundation of home in Audubon NJ
February 17, 2012 - I live in an old house (almost 90 years old), and within the past year I have noticed in one area the concrete basement floor breaking. Today I finally made time to investigate. In these old houses ...
view the full question and answer

Climbing options for a Coral honeysuckle in Austin Texas
April 16, 2013 - Regarding Coral honeysuckle, what is the best support to encourage continued spread, chicken-wire/fencing? Currently the plants and vines are on fencing and beginning to fold over. I'd like to add...
view the full question and answer

Removal of non-native invasive Ligustrum japonica from Austin
February 14, 2012 - I bought a house that I am slowly turning into a native garden, but as a teacher, I have a really small budget. One entire border of my backyard (30 feet) was planted with evil Ligustrum japonica. I l...
view the full question and answer

Trimming of Pineapple Sage and Salvia Greggii
October 07, 2007 - I live in Central Austin. My question is: When is the best time to trim back Pineapple Sage and Salvia Gregii? How far back should these plants be trimmed?
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center