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 Saucer Magnolia in Eatontown, NJ.
January 12, 2013 - Adult Saucer Magnolia (tulip tree). Branches were getting heavy to where they were ready to break. I pruned them back leaving 1 to 3 inch diameter cuts on many branches. Should I put something on th...
view the full question and answer

Pruning pink skullcap and rock daisy from Austin
February 06, 2013 - I have some pink skullcap and rock daisy and other plants in my yard that never entirely die back over the winter. Can you tell me what kind of pruning is appropriate? How far can/should I cut them ...
view the full question and answer

Removal of honeysuckle bushes from Coaldale Alberta Canada
July 30, 2010 - I have 2 honeysuckle bushes that I want to get rid of. I am wondering if Honeysuckle bushes have very deep roots (are they hard to dig out?) I am 70 years old and didn't know if I'd be able to dig ...
view the full question and answer

Runaway growth on mountain laurel in Coolidge AZ
July 01, 2010 - I have 2 mountain laurels. They are thriving well. In fact one is growing way too fast. I am growing it as a tree, but the branches are in excess of 6 feet, while the trunk is only 18 or so inches. I ...
view the full question and answer

Branches of yucca being blown down in Torrance CA
August 19, 2010 - I have a Yucca tree about 30 ft tall. Lately when the wind picks up in Torrance we have had about 3 branches fall out of the tree. Can you help me with this. I don't want to cut all of the branches...
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