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

Failure to bloom of Texas Mountain Laurel
April 15, 2008 - My +/- 4 yr old Tx. Mountain Laurel, has never bloomed. It is in full sun. I sometimes (minimal) fertilize it. I've pretty much planted it and let it grow. Its been pruned back last year when som...
view the full question and answer

Lifespan and pruning of cedar elm in San Antonio
October 03, 2009 - How long do cedar elm trees live? How can you estimate the age of one, or tell if it is nearing the end of its normal lifespan? Do you have any recommendations for selecting someone to prune it proper...
view the full question and answer

Should wax myrtles (Morella cerifera) be pruned?
April 26, 2007 - We planted Wax Myrtles in our backyard as a wall for privacy from the lot behind ours. Should we prune or cut back the tops periodically to get more fully developed bushes or let them grow naturally?
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of Tecoma stans in Austin
August 02, 2008 - We Planted a Yellow Esperanza shrub 2 years ago that was blooming when we purchased it. It bloomed very little last year and not at all this year. It looks very healthy and each year gets about 10 f...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Lyreleaf Sage from McAllen TX
April 14, 2013 - I planted a few Lyre Leaf Sage last year and they bloomed beautifully. I let them seed out and had a number of new plants show up this year. I have never cut the flower/seed stalks back and now that ...
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