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

Sunday - December 20, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Trimming American beautyberry in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have recently developed an interest in plants and since I work for a country club taking care of all the House & Grounds Maintenance, the landscaping is certainly a part of my work. I have a question in regards to some American Beautyberry: Do you have to trim it down to the ground or leave it alone when it drops all the leaves? I hope my question makes sense.

ANSWER:

For some reason, perhaps a combination of heat and then sudden frost, the Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) in the Austin area have been unusually spectacular this year. Certainly we would not trim it until the birds or time had removed all those gorgeous berries. As to regular care or pruning, here is an excerpt from our Native Plant Database:

"Conditions Comments: American beautyberry is a wonderful, large understory shrub with a naturally loose and graceful arching form. In the fall and early winter, the branches are laden with magenta purple (sometimes white) berry clusters that look spectacular as the leaves drop in autumn. It is useful as a screen in swampy or wooded locations or under shade trees in a garden setting. It can be cut to 12 inches above the base each winter to encourage more compact growth, flowers and fruit. It can also be left to mature naturally into a tall woody shrub. The shrub may temporarily defoliate and lose developing fruit during periods of prolonged summer drought."

In summary, this is a beautiful, wildlife-friendly, native plant. The degree to which you prune is pretty much a judgment call, concerning whether you want it low and compact or a larger shrub. But the pruning time, either way, is certainly late Fall or early Winter.  

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Cenizo safe for consumption by parrots from Phoenix AZ
April 30, 2012 - Could you tell me if Cenizo, (Leucophyllum frutescens) branches and leaves can be fed to pets? (parrots)I read the leaves were often used for tea for humans, but can't find an information if safe fo...
view the full question and answer

Beauty Berry Without Berries.
October 08, 2014 - I have a beautyberry that has no berries. I have some 3 year old bushes that are not producing berries. They are in semi-shade and I fertilize them. The bushes are green and growing but no berries....
view the full question and answer

Sumac Leaves Turning Red
November 22, 2013 - Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, I recently planted a flowering sumac bush. Is it normal for that plant to get fall leaf-color? About a week after planting it, the temp reached the mid-30s, and after that, I ...
view the full question and answer

Inadvisability of introducing American Beautyberry to Michigan
November 25, 2005 - I recently brought back to Michigan from Florida 2 young beauty berry plants. I currently have them in a pot inside my home. They are growing quite well, and show a hearty appearance. What are th...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for erosion from Austin
May 03, 2014 - I live in Austin and my house backs up to Shoal Creek. I am looking for a native creeping vine or something that will grow on the shaded bank to help prevent erosion. It should be able to tolerate the...
view the full question and answer

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