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

Adventitious sprouts from Live Oak in Dallas
February 26, 2011 - How do I kill Holly growing in my yard? I have a Live Oak tree growing in my Bermuda grass lawn. The holly grows under the tree from the trunk extending out about 12-15 ft. It grows right in with the ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning time for Lonicera sempervirens from Pflugerville TX
August 08, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, When does the Wildflower Center prune its Lonicera sempervirens?
view the full question and answer

Spring care for Garrya ovata from Pflugerville, TX
February 24, 2014 - Hello again, Mr. S-P, I planted a Mexican silktassel in April 2012 (purchased at the WFC). It has done well, but the leaves are bronzed and splotchy from this winter's freezes. All the stems are...
view the full question and answer

Browning of leaf tops on Iris plants
April 22, 2008 - My Iris plants bloomed beautifully, now some of the leaves are turning brown from the top down, about half way. Is this normal? What can I do about it and should I cut off the brown leaves? Also, what...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Blackfoot Daisy from Lewisville, TX
April 23, 2013 - I planted a row of Melampodium leucanthum (Blackfoot Daisy) last spring at the front of the front yard, next to the sidewalk. It's full sun, east facing, unamended black clay gumbo soil. I put mulc...
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