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

Friday - February 17, 2012

From: Bastrop, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Trimming of Flame acanthus from Bastrop TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My flame acanthus never lost leaves off the bottom tier of branches this winter. With the brief warm weather and rain we've had, the top and middle tier of branches have all re-leafed. It is very leggy and I wanted to shear it. Would it be too stressful on it to prune it now?

ANSWER:

The weather, heat and drought, have been a trial for gardens and gardeners this year. The best advice we can give you in this situation is what we would give anyone with a perennial, deciduous plant. Although this is a woody plant and does not necessarily need to be pruned to the ground like herbaceous perennials, it still will benefit from a good pruning, now. Don't worry about the premature leafing out, the bush will sprout fresh, stronger branches, eliminating the "legginess" and there will be more leaves and blooms as a result. Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (Flame acanthus), as you will see from our webpage on this plant (click on the link to read it), has rather brittle stems anyway, and shorter stronger branches will be less likely to split or break in the wind or rain, and thus preserve the shape of the plant. It can even be pruned into a hedge shape, but we prefer the wilder, more natural look.

 

More Pruning Questions

Cutting back woody plants after freeze in Leander TX
December 10, 2009 - I have several woody shrubs in a prominent location. Now that the leaves have frozen, how far back should I cut them? These are Flame Acanthus, Salvia ballotiflora, and Aloysia macrostachya, but I w...
view the full question and answer

Cold damage to Texas wild olive tree in San Antonio
May 02, 2010 - I have a Texas Olive tree that was unprotected from the 2010 cold winter here in San Antonio, TX. It is the end of April and there is no sign of growth on any of the branches. If the tree is still a...
view the full question and answer

Time to trim oak trees in Austin
October 29, 2011 - We have several large oak trees in desperate need of a good trimming. Given that the trees have had a very stressful drought year, when would be the best time to trim them?
view the full question and answer

Pruning of native perennial blooming plants
March 22, 2008 - Hello - I am still a newbie at using Native Texas plants (but loving them!), and I need pruning assistance. When (and how much) do I prune: hot lips salvia, hummingbird bush (anisthcanthus wrightii...
view the full question and answer

What to do about volunteer trees growing beneath a large live oak tree in Austin, TX
January 08, 2013 - We have a large live oak tree. Several volunteer trees are growing directly underneath it and into its branches. I want to cut them down if they are going to hurt the long term health of the live oak....
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