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

Saturday - February 18, 2012

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Pruning Agarita in the Winter
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I recently came upon a small grouping of agarita plants that had been somewhat choked by cedar. Having removed the cedar I noticed there were quite a lot of dead branches within the shrubs. Would February be a suitable time to prune these plants? If so, how, and would they benefit from some sort of fertilizer? Thanks.

ANSWER:

  Almost anytime is an OK time to remove true deadwood, but as a general statement – The late winter is not a good time to be pruning Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita).  I checked with our local experts, the horticulturists at the Wildflower Center, and was reminded that Agarita blooms in February to March and if you want to enjoy the flowers & berries that show in the Spring you should wait for the Fall to prune!

      Similarly, I’d not be giving them any fertilizer.  They are adapted to our Central Texas Hill Country soils and a dosing of fertilizer is not necessary.  You’ve already opened up the plants to air and light, which is what they need.  In reviewing other websites out there, they were pretty uniform that Agarita is a great low-maintenance shrub and that pruning and fertilizer are not required.  The City of Austin publication and the Tree-folks websites are good examples of this.

  Interestingly, one of the more positive responses to pruning Agarita was from an earlier Mr Smarty Plants question!  However, this request was in regard to making a maze from native plants.  Mr Smarty Plants thought that the Agarita would tolerate pruning well – but – would not even consider pruning it as the plant would fight back!

 

More Shrubs Questions

Yellowing of leaves in Texas Mountain Laurel from Austin
June 25, 2012 - I planted a Texas Mountain Laurel in my Austin, TX yard this January. The tree was good sized (about 5 feet tall) when I planted it. Recently the leaves of the tree have started to turn yellow alon...
view the full question and answer

Dwarf, Evergreen Shrub Suggestions for Staten Island
August 14, 2013 - I had two rows of bushes in the front of my house. The back row of bushes is what is commonly known as a hedge. Unfortunately due to Sandy I lost the front row of bushes. Please help me, I am in conta...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub with red berries in Kentucky
January 14, 2012 - I live in Laurel CO, KY. I am trying to identify a shrub/tree. The leaves are green and may turn reddish orange. There are huge pods of red berries hanging.
view the full question and answer

Plantings for beneath a red oak in Lubbock TX
February 23, 2012 - What would you recommend to plant in a two tiered raised bed facing west, totally blocked from the east, thus receiving only the afternoon sun? A 21 year old red oak sits in the middle of the upper ra...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs with sparse leaves and flowers for creek in Idaho
September 01, 2009 - I am looking for several shrubs that have spindly limbs and sparse leaves with flowers. The idea is to place them in front of windows or other views to add a lacey/veiled effect for the observer. I li...
view the full question and answer

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