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

Saturday - February 18, 2012

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Pruning Agarita in the Winter
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I recently came upon a small grouping of agarita plants that had been somewhat choked by cedar. Having removed the cedar I noticed there were quite a lot of dead branches within the shrubs. Would February be a suitable time to prune these plants? If so, how, and would they benefit from some sort of fertilizer? Thanks.

ANSWER:

  Almost anytime is an OK time to remove true deadwood, but as a general statement – The late winter is not a good time to be pruning Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita).  I checked with our local experts, the horticulturists at the Wildflower Center, and was reminded that Agarita blooms in February to March and if you want to enjoy the flowers & berries that show in the Spring you should wait for the Fall to prune!

      Similarly, I’d not be giving them any fertilizer.  They are adapted to our Central Texas Hill Country soils and a dosing of fertilizer is not necessary.  You’ve already opened up the plants to air and light, which is what they need.  In reviewing other websites out there, they were pretty uniform that Agarita is a great low-maintenance shrub and that pruning and fertilizer are not required.  The City of Austin publication and the Tree-folks websites are good examples of this.

  Interestingly, one of the more positive responses to pruning Agarita was from an earlier Mr Smarty Plants question!  However, this request was in regard to making a maze from native plants.  Mr Smarty Plants thought that the Agarita would tolerate pruning well – but – would not even consider pruning it as the plant would fight back!

 

More Shrubs Questions

Plants that are deer resistant for high desert climate in Utah
January 23, 2008 - We are building in a high desert climate in Dammeron Valley, Utah. We want plants that are both deer resistant and require little watering. Can you advise which plants (shrubs, flowers, cacti) that ...
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
view the full question and answer

Native Substitute for Boxwood in Llano, TX
March 28, 2011 - I love boxwood because it's evergreen & provides a great backdrop to my flowers w/o taking over the bed. However, I'm trying to stick with native plants, so can you provide a native alternative to b...
view the full question and answer

Frost damage to native plants in Austin
December 19, 2011 - Hello, We bought a number of native plants at this fall's WFC sale and planted them. The recent frost seems to have defoliated our pitcher sage, beautyberry, butterflyweed, and flame acanthus plan...
view the full question and answer

Selection of a small variety of Desert Willow for SE Texas
August 02, 2011 - Looking to plant desert willow as shrub. Any helpful tips to keep height down and plant full or bushy.
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.