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
1 rating

Wednesday - February 06, 2013

From: Waco, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning
Title: Pruning Pigeonberry
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Should pigeonberry be pruned back to the ground this time of year or should a few inches of stem be left? This is my first spring with them in the garden and I've not found any reference material that includes pruning specifics.

ANSWER:

Rivina humilis (pigeonberry) is a nice perennial plant that is often used as a groundcover for dry and shaded areas under trees and shrubs.  Growing to about 1 foot, the shiny green leaves are a good backdrop for the pinkish/white bloom spikes and clusters of bright scarlet berries. Many birds eat the fruit which is often present on the plant at the same time as the flowers. The fruit (and leaves) though are toxic to humans if ingested.

New growth and blooms will start once warm weather arrives in Central Texas (mid-February to mid-March) so it is best to do your pruning while it is dormant. Even if your plant has not received any freezing weather to kill last year’s growth, your young new plants are probably spindly and thin and pruning them will encourage more shoots to emerge and result in a fuller plant this first year.  Prune the plant down to a few inches if it is dormant or just above a leaf node (about 6 inches up from the soil level) if it is evergreen in your garden.  In the milder parts of Texas you may not even have to prune it back in subsequent years if no winter dieback occurs.  Just enjoy the maroon/purple winter foliage color.

If you would like to propagate more pigeonberry using seeds, take a look at this Mr. Smarty Plants question and response for instructions.

 

From the Image Gallery


Pigeonberry
Rivina humilis

Pigeonberry
Rivina humilis

Pigeonberry
Rivina humilis

Pigeonberry
Rivina humilis

Pigeonberry
Rivina humilis

Pigeonberry
Rivina humilis

More Pruning Questions

Deadheading cannas and geraniums
August 17, 2007 - I'm new to gardening. Your help would be appreciated. 1) I think I read that canna flowers can be deadheaded so they will continue to bloom throughout the summer. What part is actually taken off? ...
view the full question and answer

Why aren't my Forsythias blooming in Stone Mountain, GA?
March 24, 2010 - We have a large forsythia stand that has bloomed beautifully for 14 years in a row. Two summers ago I cut them way back in July. For the past two years they have only leafed out, no, or very few bloom...
view the full question and answer

Poverty plant overgrown in Austin
June 06, 2012 - We have a poverty plant that is too big for its space in our yard. We like it and want to keep it. Can it be transplanted easily? What about pruning it.
view the full question and answer

Browning of leaf tops on Iris plants
April 22, 2008 - My Iris plants bloomed beautifully, now some of the leaves are turning brown from the top down, about half way. Is this normal? What can I do about it and should I cut off the brown leaves? Also, what...
view the full question and answer

Winter trimming and shaping of native perennials
November 08, 2006 - Granted, it's a bit early, but for planning purposes: What is the best care for shrub-like woody perennials, like Lantana, Copper Canyon Daisy, Salvia greggii, Chile Pequin, Eupatorium wrightii, Pav...
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