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 Pruning Questions

Pruning Saucer Magnolia in Eatontown, NJ.
January 12, 2013 - Adult Saucer Magnolia (tulip tree). Branches were getting heavy to where they were ready to break. I pruned them back leaving 1 to 3 inch diameter cuts on many branches. Should I put something on th...
view the full question and answer

Winter pruning of lantana from Austin
February 12, 2013 - I live in north Austin. Due to our mild winter, my lantana has not died off this season as it usually does after a freeze - and so I have not cut it back yet this year which I typically do about right...
view the full question and answer

Questions about care and pruning of Mexican Plum and Mountain Laurel in Austin, TX.
January 24, 2012 - I have a couple of questions regarding tree care and pruning. I have a Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana), about 10 years old or so. I would like to prune it. Is it ok to prune now in late wi...
view the full question and answer

Pruning smoketree in New Jersey
May 29, 2009 - How far from ground level do I prune a relatively young Smoke tree to get the bush effect?
view the full question and answer

Controlling oak suckers in Austin
June 24, 2012 - We have 2 live oak trees that are sprouting shoots all around the surrounding area. We would like to plant some grass and would like to remedy this first. We have mowed the shoots and still they jus...
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