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
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

How to deal with suckers on Flame-leaf Sumac
May 20, 2013 - Hi! It seems you can have too much of a good thing! Our flameleaf sumac is taking over our yard. There are multiple shoots appearing in our flower beds and in the lawn. How do I get rid of the unwante...
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

Maintenance of Bicolor Sage in Austin
February 05, 2009 - I had quite a bit of Bicolor Sage planted when my yard was landscaped. I am now wondering on the proper plant maintenance. Do I prune back and if so, how much and when do I prune?
view the full question and answer

Getting a senna to fill out from Irvine CA
May 30, 2013 - I have a Senna of some kind, started from a seed by a friend. I got it as a small,six in high) seedling. After two years it is now blooming beautifully, but is a single thin stem 4 feet tall with ve...
view the full question and answer

Pruning a Wafer Ash to make it upright
February 11, 2005 - How do I trim a Wafer Ash? It lays on the ground. Is that normal? Does it need to be upright?
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