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

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 purchased at Duke Gardens From Durham NC
April 09, 2013 - I went to the plant sale at a local garden this week and bought some very small plants. I am happy to wait for plants to grow but wondered if I need to do anything special. I live in Durham NC and...
view the full question and answer

Failure of hybridized red hollies to grow
April 17, 2008 - I have 2 red hollies planted in my yard about 20' apart, 3 years now. They won't grow. Do I need to have a male with them?
view the full question and answer

Selecting a tree for a backyard in San Antonio, TX
May 11, 2013 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I recently moved into a home in West San Antonio right outside Loop 1604..my treeless backyard is fairly small at about 55 ft long and 15 ft wide. I am torn because I can't ...
view the full question and answer

Sap oozing from trunks of Cherry Laurels in Austin, TX
January 24, 2015 - I have several mature compact cherry laurels whose leaves are beginning to turn yellow. They are in raised beds, have been properly fertilized, have compost spread around them, and are properly water...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen for pool from Southlake TX
April 21, 2012 - I have a row of 7 live oaks that help block my neighbors two story house. Unfortunately, there is a gap between each tree of about 8 feet wide and 15 feet tall (from ground to the first branches/ leav...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center