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

Cutting back perennials in PA
July 25, 2011 - Can you pinch back echinacea in the spring to produce a shorter plant? I have some that get too tall and fall over.
view the full question and answer

Pruning Live Oak trees to limit height.
June 08, 2015 - I notice many of my neighbors here in Katy (Fort Bend county) would have landscapers cut the lower limbs/branches of the live oak trees in their front yards, and the trees naturally keep getting talle...
view the full question and answer

Hail damage to Cenizo in Austin
August 03, 2009 - We have some Texas sage Silverado. After the latest hail, they look very sad. If about the half of plant is OK and the other half looks dried/dead?, should we prune the dried half? Are they ever comin...
view the full question and answer

Trimming back freeze damage from Anacacho orchid in Liberty Hill TX
May 17, 2010 - When is it safe to trim back what I think is dead wood on my Anacacho orchid trees (that were hit hard this past winter)? Is there any harm done if I cut back living wood?
view the full question and answer

Hedge of native Purple Sage in Austin
November 20, 2008 - Hi, I would like to plant a dense hedge of Purple Sage that will hopefully grow from 6-8 ' tall and about 4' wide. I purchased the Silverado Sage Leucophyllum frutescens 'Berstar Dwarf' variety....
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center