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
15 ratings

Wednesday - March 10, 2010

From: Burnet, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Poisonous Plants
Title: Pruning the leaves of Sago Palm.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Is it a cardinal sin to remove all the sago palm branches? This winter they were so badly scorched by the cold that hardly a frond went unaffected. So I cut them all off as I needed to get around the base and remulch and see what was going on with the dirt. Sure enough, there were armadillo holes all around the area. I was also wanting to raise their canopy some. These are all well-established plants. But now I see where there are cautions not to cut back all the fronds, even if affected. Can you please respond as I am losing sleep over this? Even though it is too late to undo the deed, I thought the new growth would just come on and it would be like any other type of a palmlike thing; just give more of a trunk. Thank you if you can tell me all is not lost.

ANSWER:

The sago palm is a popular ornamental plant used in landscaping in central Texas, and many of the ones in the area took a hit from the freezing weather this winter. The reason for this is partly because they're not from around here. The plant, Cycas revoluta, is native to Japan and southeast Asia. It can survive down to 15 degrees fahrenheit, but not without some damage.
The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants, and landscapes. This leaves sago palms outside our area of focus and expertise.
However, I have included two links that will give you more information about sago palms , and tips for pruning them .  You should be aware that these plants are toxic to humans and pets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Hail damage to Cenizo in Austin
August 03, 2009 - We have some Texas sage Silverado. After the latest hail, they look very sad. If about the half of plant is OK and the other half looks dried/dead?, should we prune the dried half? Are they ever comin...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Live Oak trees to limit height.
June 08, 2015 - I notice many of my neighbors here in Katy (Fort Bend county) would have landscapers cut the lower limbs/branches of the live oak trees in their front yards, and the trees naturally keep getting talle...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of Salvia greggii from San Antonio
June 29, 2011 - We bought Salvia greggii at the Wildflower Center Plant Sale three years ago and planted them in a well drained area. We cut them back early in the year as recommended at Go Native U classes. ...
view the full question and answer

Existing live oak taking over in Monahans TX
March 22, 2011 - I have just purchased a home with a huge Live Oak tree in the front yard. The previous owners have over the years allowed the sucker roots to grow unchecked. The tree is shading most of the lawn (di...
view the full question and answer

Ash tree dying back to lower sprouts in Kempner TX
June 19, 2010 - My 2 year old ash tree leaves dropped, appears dead, branches dying. New growth near base of tree. Do I cut upper trunk or remove entire tree? My other ash is doing well.
view the full question and answer

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