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
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

Stubs of Texas Star Hibiscus in Abilene, TX
March 26, 2009 - We have cut back our outdoor Texas Star Hibiscus for 4 years and now have a large number of old stubs that the new growth must navigate around. Will it kill the plant if we dig up the old stubs? At so...
view the full question and answer

Bumelia sending up shoots in Austin
November 28, 2010 - I have a bumelia that is sending up shooters everywhere in my yard. Everywhere!! I started to dig them up, but many come from deep roots and my digging seems to have encouraged the tree to send up m...
view the full question and answer

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

Planting and care of Desert Willow in Golden Valley, AZ.
May 17, 2013 - I got a desert willow to plant in yard. Some of the leaves dried out before I could plant. Will that stop the tree from growing into a decent size tree or stay as a shrub?
view the full question and answer

Cutting Juncus effusus back from Bellevue WA
November 18, 2010 - I read your posts about Juncus effusus and just have one follow-up question. When is the best time to cut them back to the ground - before winter or early spring? I live in the Pacific NW. I recent...
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