En Español

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

Tuesday - October 23, 2012

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Pruning guidance for Carolina buckthorn from Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a Carolina Buckthorn in my back patio that I planted in fall 2001. The summer of 2003 the roofers dropped something off the back and broke the top 10-12 inches off. I have tried to train the largest branch to be the top. it is now 12 feet tall and it is leaning really hard to one side. I am worried that it might break. it gets afternoon sun directly and in every other respect is very healthy and beautiful. I am wondering whether I should take out the top 2 feet and let it grow however it chooses. I don't want to lose it. thanks for any advice.

ANSWER:

Frangula caroliniana (Carolina buckthorn) is native to Harris County, according to this USDA Plant Profile Map. You can follow the plant link above to our webpage on this plant and learn about its growing conditions and care, including this comment:

"Carolina buckthorn is airy and tiered, somewhat like the flowering dogwoods. Three to four hours per day of sun are necessary. With more sun, the plant tends to get dense and shrubby losing some of its charm."

To give you some feel on how much effort you should put into maintenance of this tree, here is a previous Smarty Plants answer on the height and lifespan of the plant. From our Step by Step Guides, here is a Guide to Pruning a Tree.

From the USDA Forest Service, here is an article on Caroliina buckthorn. Scroll down a little way and you will find a paragraph with specific information on Trunks and Branches. We would advise waiting until cooler weather, like November to February, to do the pruning, and you might want to consult a professional arborist.

 

From the Image Gallery


Carolina buckthorn
Frangula caroliniana

Carolina buckthorn
Frangula caroliniana

Carolina buckthorn
Frangula caroliniana

More Pruning Questions

Making Ruellia nudiflora thicker in pot from Tucson AZ
June 25, 2012 - Can Ruellia Nudiflora be propagated in the same pot as the parent plant? Can it be cut back to stimulate a denser plant? I have plants in several pots and would like to 'thicken' the plant. Tha...
view the full question and answer

Cuttings from beautyberry from Stockport OH
May 22, 2014 - My beauty berry is starting a new growth about 2ft from main plant, can I dig this and part of the root without hurting the main part, if so, when?
view the full question and answer

pruning crape myrtle (ugh, non-native)
March 05, 2012 - We would like to plant a Dynamite Crape myrtle in front of our front window. They grow 20' to 30'. Can I trim it each year to about 15' to 20'? Should we plant it approximately 5 feet from the ...
view the full question and answer

Red oaks that didn't drop leaves in Austin
April 04, 2012 - I have a number of Red Oaks on land that did not drop leaves this past fall. Now these same trees seem to be dead? It seems there's some type of mold/fungus on the trees. Some trees have small patche...
view the full question and answer

Pruning time for Lonicera sempervirens from Pflugerville TX
August 08, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, When does the Wildflower Center prune its Lonicera sempervirens?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center