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

Wednesday - February 06, 2013

From: Missouri City, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning
Title: Pruning Copper Plants
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I planted two beautiful copper plants in my front beds. They went wild during the fall, but got so leggy that I cut them back nearly to the ground, which I believe was a mistake. Will they come back or do I need to find new ones?

ANSWER:

There are several native plants in the Acalypha genus that have copper in their common names and could be the shrub that you are describing in your front beds.  A few examples are Acalypha phleoides (shrubby copperleaf), Acalypha ostryifolia (hop-hornbeam copperleaf), and Acalypha californica (California copperleaf).  Also, a non-native in the same genus is Acalypha wilkesiana which is also called copper plant or copperleaf.

If it is Acalypha wilkesiana (copper plants, copperleaf) in your garden it is a little out of our line. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown.

Acalypha generally though are tolerant of heavy pruning, although if they are quite woody they might sit and sulk for a while before they decide to send out some new growth. In any case, pruning your shrub back hard will theoretically encourage the plant to have denser, less spindly growth. Have patience with yours to see if it will send up some new shoots within the next several months before you head to get replacements.

 

From the Image Gallery


Shrubby copperleaf
Acalypha phleoides

Pineland threeseed mercury
Acalypha ostryifolia

California copperleaf
Acalypha californica

More Pruning Questions

Pruning Pigeonberry
February 06, 2013 - 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 tha...
view the full question and answer

Buffaloberry from Grandma
June 25, 2008 - I have a "BUFFALO BERRY" that my Grandma brought back from South Dakota.It is approx.8yrs.old.All was well until this spring.It was budding out when we had a very hard freeze and got 3" of snow.Now...
view the full question and answer

Winter pruning for yucca in Michigan
November 10, 2008 - I live in SE Michigan and have an outdoor yucca plant that has grown quite large. My father tells me that I can literally cut it down to the ground in the fall and that it will grow back the followin...
view the full question and answer

Cutting back woody plants after freeze in Leander TX
December 10, 2009 - I have several woody shrubs in a prominent location. Now that the leaves have frozen, how far back should I cut them? These are Flame Acanthus, Salvia ballotiflora, and Aloysia macrostachya, but I w...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Trees in Austin, TX
April 05, 2013 - I have lots of green growth sprouting on the trunks of mature trees. Should I trim them off?
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