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

Northern Catalpa Tree Doing Poorly
July 02, 2014 - One of our Northern Catalpa trees appears to be dying. It is about 28 feet tall and this year only about 1/3 of it is producing leaves. It is next to our largest Catalpa tree (about 65 feet tall and a...
view the full question and answer

Pruning of wax myrtle in St. Augustine FL
May 30, 2009 - How severely can we prune our wax myrtle? It had grown 10 feet tall and very spindly and we want it to be a border hedge in front of the preserve in back of our yard.
view the full question and answer

Sprout from a non-native sago palm in Poinciana FL
October 16, 2013 - I have two mature (10 years old)sago palms. One of them sprouted a new "head' at the top of the trunk. It is competing with the original one. It is not a pup coming from the root area. Can I cut it ...
view the full question and answer

Branches of yucca being blown down in Torrance CA
August 19, 2010 - I have a Yucca tree about 30 ft tall. Lately when the wind picks up in Torrance we have had about 3 branches fall out of the tree. Can you help me with this. I don't want to cut all of the branches...
view the full question and answer

Can I save my century plant by cutting the flowering stalk in Austin, TX? Probably not.
April 28, 2010 - Our century plant is starting to sprout it's flower (four feet). If we cut it down can we save the plant? Thank you.
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