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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - January 27, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Seasonal Tasks, Shrubs
Title: Time to cut back Turk's Cap in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I did not find my question answered in the database. My question is: When is the best time to cut back Red Turks Cap? I live in Central Austin.

ANSWER:

From a previous answer on this question:

"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. 


 

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