Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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
2 ratings

Friday - January 07, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Seasonal Tasks, Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Pruning cherry laurel in January in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Do trust I checked Q&A first. Can Cherry Laurel shrubs be pruned earlier than late winter in Austin? I foolishly planted 12 native Cherry Laurel standards on our suburban property line 5 years ago. I do trim to keep under control, but new neighbor wants them gone, now. I'd like to prune by a 1/3 of their height (conical shaped) this week as a peace treaty and to demonstrate that the shrubs can work as a lovely living fence. Is pruning in January another foolish decision? Thanks so very much Mr. Smarty Pants! Cherry Laurel lady in Austin

ANSWER:

Of course you can prune Prunus caroliniana (Cherry laurel) now. The only reason to prune a woody plant at some specific time of the year has to do with when it blooms. Since the blooms of the cherry laurel are insignificant, that should not be a consideration. Our webpage has just one comment on pruning of this plant:

"Maintenance: Cherry laurels do not like being severely pruned and will resist being trained into an angled hedge."

Since the attraction of this native Texas shrub is its open, graceful growing habit, providing screening and food for the birds, you would not try to create a boxy, formal hedge of it in any case. Pruning one-third is reasonable; you will have some bare places for a while because this shrub tends not to have much foliage in the interior, but that will quickly grow back in the spring.

We hope your neighbor can be placated and realize the advantage of having a privacy screen already in place. And thanks for checking our q&a first, we get a lot of questions and not having to answer the same one over and over contributes to our efficiency, which always needs help.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Prunus caroliniana


Prunus caroliniana


Prunus caroliniana

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Replacement of non-native red tip photinias in Midlothian VA
April 30, 2012 - I need to replace our long lived red tips. They are now diseased. I would like a fast growing bush that I can trim and make a hedge with. Any suggestions
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

Which plants are resistant to dog urine in Ashmore, IL??
May 21, 2012 - Which native plants are resistant to dogs urinating on them?
view the full question and answer

Need shrubs to form a barrier fence to exclude large dogs in Huntsvile, TX.
August 26, 2009 - I'm seeking shrubs to form a barrier fence to strongly discourage free-roaming large dogs from entering a property in Huntsville, Texas. The site is currently just a grass yard basking in full sun, g...
view the full question and answer

Is India Hawthorne a deer-resistant plant?
July 03, 2011 - Is India Hawthorne a deer resistant plant in Beaufort County South Carolina?
view the full question and answer

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