Explore Plants

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
    
 

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:

 

 

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Repairing damage to Anacacho Orchid Tree in Austin
April 30, 2008 - Hi You Guys!! We have an understory Anacacho Orchid Tree in the front and my sweetie was trimming the big oak and dropped a branch down, splitting one of the large branches off the Anacacho. The wou...
view the full question and answer

Problem with crapemyrtle shoots in Victoria, TX
May 13, 2009 - I have a problem with crepe myrtle shoots coming up in my flowerbed. I had to remove a large crepe myrtle tree (18" diameter stump) and digging out the stump was not possible. I killed the stump wi...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Roughleaf dogwood
November 28, 2013 - We put 5 rough-leaf dogwoods along our side deck; having been told (by the local, natural plant seller) that they would reach a maximum height of 6 feet. They have grown taller than that (despite som...
view the full question and answer

Runaway growth on mountain laurel in Coolidge AZ
July 01, 2010 - I have 2 mountain laurels. They are thriving well. In fact one is growing way too fast. I am growing it as a tree, but the branches are in excess of 6 feet, while the trunk is only 18 or so inches. I ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Podocarpus macrophyllus in Ft Worth TX
November 12, 2011 - I know this question does not pertain to a native plant but I've spent too much time not finding an answer to my question. I have many mature Podocarpus macrophyllus bushes at my house I purchased in...
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.