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Mr. Smarty Plants - Pruning Pigeonberry

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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

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