En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Pruning wax myrtles from Austin

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

Tuesday - March 29, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Pruning wax myrtles from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I've got some wax myrtles that have grown up in the last 10 years on my property line, completely volunteer. My neighbor has begun to grumble about too much shade on his yard. I'd like to trim them down to about 8-10 feet to act as a hedge without shading out too much of his grass. When can these be pruned?

ANSWER:

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) is a nice shrub or small tree that can get up to 12 to 15 feet in height. It is evergreen, has fragrant flowers as well as fragrant foliage, and attracts many different kinds of birds. It is a fairly wispy open plant, so it shouldn't be casting too much shade on your neighbor's grass, but in the interest of good neighborhood relations, you can certainly prune it back to 8 to 10 feet.

Wax myrtle is very forgiving of pruning, and we saw several different suggestions when we searched on the Internet. If you do it right away, before new growth starts to show up, you can prune them now, don't wait until it starts to get hot. Then, after that, prune it a couple times of year to help it regrow into a hedge size and shape. Don't get too severe and boxy in your pruning, as that will ruin the natural character of the plant. If you are getting berries on your trees, that means you have female trees and there are male trees of the same species in the area for pollination. It is not surprising that you got those trees coming up voluntarily. So many birds love the berries, eat them, digest them and re-issue them with a little fertilizer at no extra charge, that they will grow volunteers all around. The wax myrtle doesn't sprout particularly aggressively, but it wouldn't hurt to pull out volunteer seedlings when you see them, before you get a wax myrtle thicket. The wax myrtle really grows better a little farther east in Texas than Austin, preferring a slightly acidic soil which it doesn't find in our alkaline clay soils. However, it sounds like yours are doing just fine.

 

From the Image Gallery


Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

More Pruning Questions

When is the best time to trim oak trees in Driftwood TX?
September 09, 2010 - When is the best time to trim oak trees?
view the full question and answer

Pruning Pigeonberry
February 06, 2013 - Should pigeonberry be pruned back to the ground this time of year or should a few inches of stem be left? This is my first spring with them in the garden and I've not found any reference material tha...
view the full question and answer

Removal of yaupon stumps in Midland TX
March 31, 2010 - How is the best way to remove Yaupon tree stumps? We have 4 of them.
view the full question and answer

Winter pruning of lantana from Austin
February 12, 2013 - I live in north Austin. Due to our mild winter, my lantana has not died off this season as it usually does after a freeze - and so I have not cut it back yet this year which I typically do about right...
view the full question and answer

Trimming native Yucca filamentosa for winter in Illinois
October 18, 2008 - I live in northern IL and I have approximately 5 yucca plants, Adams needle, my question is do I need to trim them down for winter for best growth the next year?
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center