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
2 ratings

Friday - April 05, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Pruning Trees in Austin, TX
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I have lots of green growth sprouting on the trunks of mature trees. Should I trim them off?

ANSWER:

It depends.  You didn’t say what kind of mature trees you have.

If the trees are Oaks - - Then the answer is “Not Now!” .  The link here is to an earlier Mr Smarty Plants question and references which give you a good overview of the dangers of Oak Wilt and how you can attempt to protect your trees.  The short version of this is to prune only in the “depth” of the cold winter, preferably January & February.

Looking farther afield, I found two good and local articles on why you could want to prune a tree.  The short version of their advice is  “ health, cosmetics & safety”.  The first of these is an article from the city of Round Rock on Pruning Mature Trees, which discusses reasons for pruning.  Their basic philosophy is that “Pruning is the most common, yet often unnecessary, tree maintenance procedure.”    Trees should be pruned for three reasons “safety, health, and aesthetics”.   Very similar advice is given in a blog from the Austin Tree Experts on “Why to Prune Trees in Austin TX”.

So, how does this affect your perception of the mature trees?  Assuming they are not Oaks, then an argument could be made that the trunk growth is not very good looking, or that in due time, branches growing there would be unsafe. [I consistently get a scratch on my head from the low branches of our plum tree while mowing!]  Its not necessary to prune your trees, but if you wish, this is the justification.   Mr Smarty Plants does have a good answer on pruning Chinkapin oak, Loquat and Monterrey oak trees

Similarly, to help you do it right, the Wildflower Center has a Step by Step Guide on How to Prune a Tree

 

From the Image Gallery


Chinkapin oak
Quercus muehlenbergii

Chinkapin oak
Quercus muehlenbergii

Mexican white oak
Quercus polymorpha

More Pruning Questions

Pruning non-native oleanders
September 28, 2011 - I have an oleander that has become to "leggy". I read the pruning instructions, but where I want to prune, there are not any leaf nodes. Can I trim below at the base, or will I hurt the plant? I ...
view the full question and answer

Recovery of an agarita having been cut down from San Antonio, TX
August 16, 2013 - I had an agarita adjoining a cedar and a volunteer hackberry in my yard. The tree trimmers were supposed to cut out the hackberry but unfortunately also cut the agarita back to the ground. How long ...
view the full question and answer

Yucca blades damaged by weedeater in Hellertown PA
July 05, 2011 - Can I cut off the blades of a Yucca plant that have been eaten on the edges with a weed wacker and are very unsightly looking? Can they be cut back to the flower shaft?
view the full question and answer

Brown leaves on possumhaw holly in Grandview TX
July 02, 2009 - What would be likely causes for brown leaves on possumhaw holly? We have 2, one was planted in spring 2008, and a slightly larger one planted late winter/early spring this year. Most of the leaves a...
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

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