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

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 Trees Questions

Problems with Mexican Olive tree from Edinburg TX
October 06, 2013 - My Mexican olive (anacahuita) shows no obvious signs of pest or disease, but over the last years has more and more dead limbs and smaller and smaller leaves. It's in a yard with a sprinkler system t...
view the full question and answer

Willows native to Wisconsin
July 01, 2005 - I have a small garden center in the far northern reaches of Wisconsin....and I specialize in native varieties for up here. I also help folks with lake shore restoration and preservation. There was...
view the full question and answer

Would like suggestions for a tree or bush to be given as a memorial gift for friends in Austin, TX.
April 26, 2011 - Hello, I would like to give a memorial gift of a tree and/or bush native to the Austin area to friends living there. Any suggestions? Local vendors would be appreciated also. Thanks very much!
view the full question and answer

A privacy hedge for NJ
April 16, 2011 - My backyard faces a highway in New Jersey. 18 years ago White Pines were planted for privacy, but they have since grown and now there is no privacy at all as the tree trucks are rather bare. Is ther...
view the full question and answer

Premature browning of bald cypress needles in summer
July 15, 2011 - I have several 10m high taxodium distichum trees in the lawn, with drip irrigation twice a week, and same soil content, and on just one of them, several leaves have started turning brown, it seems to ...
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