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?


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
1 rating

Monday - June 24, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Pruning non-native Chinese fringe flower from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


When is the best time of year to prune Plum Delight? And how severely can it be cut back?


Here is an article from Ask.com on How to Grow Plum Delight, also known as Lorapetalum chinense, Chinese Fringe Flower. This plant is native to, well, China, as well as Japan and southeast Asia. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home to Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants are being grown; in your case, Travis County. We do this to ensure that you have the proper soil, climate and rainfall in your garden to accommodate the plants on which you spend precious resources. Since we do not have it in our Native Plant Database, we have to rely on information we can find on the Internet, as can you.

An article from Clemson University Extension on Lorapetalum has a couple of lines you should be interested in, but you should read the whole article.

"Root rot can be an issue, especially in poorly drained soils. In addition, leaves may become chlorotic (yellow) in alkaline (pH greater than 7.0) soil." The Austin area is notorious for alkaline soils and poorly draining clay, which is why we would not recommend this plant for Austin, even if it were native.

"Transplanting easily from containers, their preferred growing conditions include sun to partial shade (especially afternoon shade) and moist, well-drained, acidic soil with plenty of organic matter. They benefit from being mulched. Once established, they are very tolerant of drought conditions. Loropetalums respond well to a light application of slow-release fertilizer in early April and again in early June. Planted in the right location, they do not require pruning; however, they tolerate even heavy pruning very well. When necessary, prune in the spring after bloom so as not to reduce flowering the following spring."



More Shrubs Questions

Need plants to replace cedars on a 40 degree slope in Boerne, TX.
August 28, 2012 - My backyard is a roughly 40 degree slope that is covered with cedars. The slope is basically all rock, what can I grow here to replace the cedar which drink too much water. I would still like the area...
view the full question and answer

When Should I Prune Texas Sage?
July 07, 2016 - How and when do you prune Texas sage to encourage thicker foliage?
view the full question and answer

Trees & shrubs, low water, no maintenance, disease & pest resistant
May 04, 2013 - We need few Trees and shrubs to meet the following needs: - Low Water or best with a taproot for Ground Water - Clay Soil in Steep Slopes (25-40 degrees) - Low or No Maintenance. (hillside, no trim...
view the full question and answer

Does Helasia diptera absorb toxic substances from Dover Plains NY
March 09, 2012 - Dear Mr. Plants, Halesia carolina is described as absorbing toxic substances: herbicides, pesticides and pollutants from water, air and soil. Does Halesia diptera do the same? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage to dwarf Barbados Cherry in Austin
April 23, 2010 - This past winter was colder than usual here, in the southwestern outskirts of Austin, but I am surprised that my established Dwarf Barbados Cherry, on the south side of my house froze completely to th...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center