Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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, pruning and dividing native plants
April 21, 2005 - I am wanting to cut back, or prune, and divide many of my native plants but don't know how. What should I do? I bought them all at the native plant sale at the center last fall. We have a family ...
view the full question and answer

Trimming of Pineapple Sage and Salvia Greggii
October 07, 2007 - I live in Central Austin. My question is: When is the best time to trim back Pineapple Sage and Salvia Gregii? How far back should these plants be trimmed?
view the full question and answer

Care for lantana in Katy TX
December 04, 2010 - Hello. I live in Katy TX and have a number of Lantana shrubs. How and when should they be cut back?
view the full question and answer

Pruning for native oak in Houston
October 06, 2008 - I have an oak tree, and I was wondering if I prune from the top down, would it get fuller at the bottom? Or can you tell me how to prune it? I have been pruning from the bottom up and it is growing ta...
view the full question and answer

Premature leaf drop on Red Maple in Kentucky
June 25, 2008 - I have a ten foot Red Maple tree that has been set out for 4 years. Its leaves have slowly turned colors until it currently looks like fall. The leaves are not falling off nor is there yet any s...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.