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

Wednesday - May 18, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Pruning technique for Anacacho Orchid from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have an Anacacho Orchid tree that is about 8 ft tall and still young. It is doing quite well. I have never pruned it, but lately I have been considering it as some of the top branches are starting to cross each other. I read your advice on when to prune, but my question relates to why I should prune. My questions are these: 1. Is it in the best interest of this kind of tree to let it grow in its natural form, or will it be just as healthy if its pruned a little for shape and crossing branches? 2. My tree has 3 trunks. I read that if one trunk is desired, you can simply cut the others away as long as the tree is still young. Is this advisable? If done, will the remaining single trunk thicken to support the tree? I don't want to compromise the health of the tree for a simply aesthetic purpose. Thank you in advance for your time!

ANSWER:

Since we have no personal experience with this tree, about the best we can do is refer you to several places that might help. You will have to choose based on your own expectations of how the tree should look and whether the crossed branches are causing any damage. We can tell you the tree can take pruning and even hard pruning. We will go looking for information on when to prune it, and whether to try to convert to a single trunk tree.

From our webpage on Bauhinia lunarioides (Anacacho orchid tree) (all of which we recommend you read) here is a recommendation on single trunk pruning:

"Maintenance: If want to keep only a single trunk, prune judiciously early on. Do not fertilize much if at all, because it can cause weakness and lankiness and reduce flowering."

From this USDA Plant Profile map, you will find that this tree grows natively only in areas to the south and west of Austin. You should heed the advice on our webpage on this plant to shelter it from winter winds to hopefully protect it from our sudden sharp freezes. It also is useful to mulch the area around the trunk in cold times of the year. This article from Arid Zone Trees has good cultural and pruning methods.

We never could find what we considered reliable information on what time of year to prune the Anacacho; however, the very fact that it isn't mentioned probably means it won't die if you prune at the wrong time. We also couldn't find out if it bloomed on new wood or old wood, which would also affect when it was pruned. In light of the fact that it blooms in Spring and Summer, we would recommend it be pruned in cooler weather in the Fall, when the blooming was over and it was not yet cold enough to shock the newly pruned tree.

Like many desert plants, this tree does not react well to sprinkler systems, preferring deep infrequent watering at the base of the tree,

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Bauhinia lunarioides


Bauhinia lunarioides


Bauhinia lunarioides

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

How close to a female tree will a male Possumhaw Holly need to be planted to ensure pollination in Plano, TX?
April 01, 2010 - I would like to plant a female Possumhaw Holly in my yard. Does a male need to be planted nearby in order for the female to have berries? If so, how close must the male tree be located?
view the full question and answer

Sap dripping from a lacey oaks in San Antonio
September 06, 2012 - I have a lacey oak tree, approximately 6 ft. tall that has been in the ground almost a year. The tree looks healthy but there is a small area on the trunk that looks and feels wet. The substance is s...
view the full question and answer

Pruning wax myrtles from Austin
March 29, 2011 - 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 ...
view the full question and answer

Which is best-Oklahoma Redbud or Texas Redbud in Austin?
March 25, 2010 - I live in Northwest Austin and would like to plant a small redbud tree in my front yard. My yard gets full sun. Which is better - the Texas redbud or the Oklahoma redbud?
view the full question and answer

Why will my Butternut trees not produce nuts in Tennessee?
May 06, 2009 - I have 2 butternut trees planted about 20 ft from each other. I see the long blossoms on each tree but I have not gotten any nuts from either tree. I do not know if I have a male and female or if th...
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