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 - May 29, 2013

From: Livermore, CA
Region: California
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Pruning of tree poppy from Livermore CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a Dendromecon rigida which has been in place for about 10 years and is doing fine. But the older growth gets dry, brown and crinkly, while the newer growth is bright and lush. I would like to keep it looking good, but I'm afraid of pruning off too much of the unsightly old growth for fear of overdoing it, so I have been tending to leave much of the old growth in place. Any advice about how aggressively this plant can, or should, be pruned?

ANSWER:

There are two members of the Dendromecon genus native to California. Both appear to be endemic to California; that is, growing nowhere else in North America. One is Dendromecon rigida (Tree poppy) (USDA Plant Profile), native to quite a big area of California, including Alameda County, and Dendromecon harfordii (Harford's tree poppy) (USDA Plant Profile) native to Santa Barbara County and the Channel Islands. Both are members of the Papaveraceae (poppy) family.

We mention this similarity in these plants because we found these pruning instructions for Dendromecon harfordii (Harford's tree poppy) which we think would be applicable to Dendromecon rigida (Tree poppy):

"Regarding pruning, I like tipping the plant back lightly but if it gets too big it can be treated more harshly taking half or more of the plant off around November or December. It re-sprouts generously and if those branches are immediately tipped back again it forms a more dense and floriferous plant the next year."

 

From the Image Gallery


Tree poppy
Dendromecon rigida

Tree poppy
Dendromecon rigida

Harford's tree poppy
Dendromecon harfordii

More Pruning Questions

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

Need some help with my Mexican Bush Sage in Rockport, TX.
July 07, 2011 - My Mexican bush sage looks leggy,ratty and sparse. It's planted in full sun and was cut back to the ground in early spring. My soil is sand and I've watered it sparingly as we've had no rain. I'm...
view the full question and answer

Safe branch length of oaks in Clayton NC
November 06, 2011 - I have 2 very large oak trees in my yard and I am concerned about the length of the branches over the house and driveway. Most seem larger than 4" in diameter. What is a safe length for these branc...
view the full question and answer

Should black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) plants be cut back
May 02, 2007 - I have black-eyed susan plants that were beautiful last year and flowered for a long time. Do they need to be cut back and if so, how much?
view the full question and answer

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

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