Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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 Trees Questions

Caterpillars on catalpa trees and hardiness of catalpas
May 23, 2007 - A volunteer catalpa tree has recently popped up near the edge of our swimming pool. The foliage is lovely, so I'm considering allowing it to stay. This one has already proven to be a fast grower . ...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for Waynesville MO
April 09, 2013 - We moved to Waynesville, MO (gardening region 6) and when we bought our house there was a nice looking gardening area in front of the house. It is shaded moderately by a Redwood Tree and was "occupie...
view the full question and answer

Questions about care and pruning of Mexican Plum and Mountain Laurel in Austin, TX.
January 24, 2012 - I have a couple of questions regarding tree care and pruning. I have a Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana), about 10 years old or so. I would like to prune it. Is it ok to prune now in late wi...
view the full question and answer

Should I Prune Oak Trees in February in Wisconsin?
February 17, 2011 - I need to cut some oak branches but am worried about oak wilt. You told an earlier questioner not to cut in February. I live in Wisconsin and it has been very cold lately. Am I okay to cut the bran...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Live Oaks in Mesa AZ
March 26, 2013 - I have two Evergreen Live Oaks in central Arizona. One is flourishing and getting new spring leaves from top to bottom. Its trunk is rough, has large grooves, and the spots where I've pruned look li...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.