Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Thursday - August 27, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Poisonous Plants, Shrubs
Title: Trimming Texas mountain laurel in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is there a specific time to trim established mountain laurels? Should I cut off the dried seed pods since they are weighing down the branches?

ANSWER:

Since we were unable to find out if Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) blooms on new or old wood, we believe the safest thing would be to prune it after it stops blooming. It blooms in February and March, so the pruning could still be done before it got too hot. This would solve your other problem, too, that of the seeds weighing down the branches. No blooms, no seeds. Furthermore, you should definitely cut off and carefully dispose of those seeds. The brilliant red seeds contain the highly poisonous alkaloid cytisine (or sophorine) - this substance is related to nicotine and is widely cited as a narcotic and hallucinogen. And they are so pretty, they are far too tempting to children and even animals that might be in the area. Even if you don't prune away the branch the blooms were on, nip those seeds off as soon as they appear. And don't put any of it in your compost pile, the whole plant has toxic qualities. 


Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Groundcovers over roots in Roeland Park KS
June 18, 2013 - Large Hackberry tree (aprox 50+years) roots are popping up above ground making mowing under/around it impossible. Is there a plant, ground cover, something I can plant, or cover the roots with that w...
view the full question and answer

Native Texas Hill Country nitrogen-fixing plants
June 07, 2006 - Please help me find a listing of native (TX Hill Country) nitrogen-fixing plants.
view the full question and answer

Climbing options for a Coral honeysuckle in Austin Texas
April 16, 2013 - Regarding Coral honeysuckle, what is the best support to encourage continued spread, chicken-wire/fencing? Currently the plants and vines are on fencing and beginning to fold over. I'd like to add...
view the full question and answer

Sap oozing from trunks of Cherry Laurels in Austin, TX
January 24, 2015 - I have several mature compact cherry laurels whose leaves are beginning to turn yellow. They are in raised beds, have been properly fertilized, have compost spread around them, and are properly water...
view the full question and answer

Looking for a male Southern Wax Myrtle in Newport News, VA.
August 20, 2012 - We are looking to add more southern wax Myrtles to make a hedge row with them. We already have one in the ground that is a female. I have called around to see if anyone sells the male but i keep get...
view the full question and answer

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