En Español

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
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

Pruning Roughleaf dogwood
November 28, 2013 - We put 5 rough-leaf dogwoods along our side deck; having been told (by the local, natural plant seller) that they would reach a maximum height of 6 feet. They have grown taller than that (despite som...
view the full question and answer

Repair of broken branch stump on pecan tree
July 18, 2007 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, big fan. Recently one of my pecan trees had a large branch break off, about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. The strange part was there was no clear sign of what caused the damage, i...
view the full question and answer

Sun loving plants for flower bed by the pool in Weatherford Texas
October 03, 2011 - We have a 40' long x 2 1/2' wide flowerbed along our pool. It is in full sun with the pool deck across the front and a 6' privacy fence across back. Also, the level of the bed is 18" below the l...
view the full question and answer

Mountain Laurel suffering from Spring freeze
May 12, 2015 - I have a 4 1/2 ft Texas Mountain Laurel shrub in current location for several years. A hard freeze this spring killed every leaf on the tree, but the stems remained green. My other smaller Mt. Laure...
view the full question and answer

Tree removal from Austin
November 18, 2013 - Unfortunately we need to cut down a Spanish oak (11" diameter, over 50 feet tall) that is leaning against our upper story deck (if it falls, the roof, deck, and steel supports may be crushed). A lim...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center