Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Monday - November 16, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Trimming of turkscap
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a Mexican Turk's cap, it is in its second year of growth and is doing well. However, I feel a need to prune it? do I need to?

ANSWER:

Both Malvaviscus arboreus (wax mallow) and Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow), are referred to as turkscap, and both have "Mexican apple" as another of their common names. We found no plant called "Mexican turkscap" in any of our research sources, and presume that is a name given it by a plant retailer to make it sound more attractive. Since turkscap is deciduous, we have always chosen to cut it down to about 6 inches above the ground after it becomes dormant. This helps to mark the place where the new growth will be coming up in the Spring, and also serves the purpose of refreshing the plant. We did find, on our page for  Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow), this suggestion for the care of the plant:

"Maintenance: To keep at a desirable height and shape, prune back after a couple years. Can be cut back to give the appearance of a ground cover, though it doesn't spread by either rhizomes or stolons but by layering. Will bloom even when cut short."

Conclusion: You can probably do pretty much whatever you like. This plant tends to get leggy and tall, and is pretty unattractive after the leaves fall off, so trimming back from time to time is a good idea. 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Plant for full sun behind waterfall
March 21, 2009 - I have a 24 inch waterfall around my pool. I need to plant something behind it. I have full sun and hot Texas weather. I will be watering everyday, so what do you think would grow well in this area?
view the full question and answer

Brown leaf problem with herbaceous blooming plants from Greenfield MA
May 28, 2014 - I have 3 plants cimicifuga brunette and lots of astile planted near each other. Suddenly the edges of leaves have turned brown and shriveled and spread to entire plant, all of them. It has not been ...
view the full question and answer

Recreating a wildflower meadow, central Texas
July 02, 2013 - We have an acre on our property that has bluebonnets. Unfortunately, it also has other plants that we don't want -Johnson grass, nettles, burrs. We plan to do a controlled burn in the fall and re-...
view the full question and answer

Dietes bicolor(Bicolor Iris) winter-hardiness in Austin
February 09, 2010 - I have many bi-color irises (dietes bicolor), the freeze in Austin turned them brown. Can I trim them back without harming the plants? If trimming is acceptable, can you give me tips?
view the full question and answer

Early spring wildflowers of Pennsylvania
September 30, 2011 - What native wildflower is the first to bloom in Weedville, Pa? (Jay township, Elk county) I am working on a research paper for my Environmental Problems class, and this would be very helpful. Thank y...
view the full question and answer

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