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

Wednesday - May 29, 2013

From: Livermore, CA
Region: California
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Pruning of tree poppy from Livermore CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a Dendromecon rigida which has been in place for about 10 years and is doing fine. But the older growth gets dry, brown and crinkly, while the newer growth is bright and lush. I would like to keep it looking good, but I'm afraid of pruning off too much of the unsightly old growth for fear of overdoing it, so I have been tending to leave much of the old growth in place. Any advice about how aggressively this plant can, or should, be pruned?

ANSWER:

There are two members of the Dendromecon genus native to California. Both appear to be endemic to California; that is, growing nowhere else in North America. One is Dendromecon rigida (Tree poppy) (USDA Plant Profile), native to quite a big area of California, including Alameda County, and Dendromecon harfordii (Harford's tree poppy) (USDA Plant Profile) native to Santa Barbara County and the Channel Islands. Both are members of the Papaveraceae (poppy) family.

We mention this similarity in these plants because we found these pruning instructions for Dendromecon harfordii (Harford's tree poppy) which we think would be applicable to Dendromecon rigida (Tree poppy):

"Regarding pruning, I like tipping the plant back lightly but if it gets too big it can be treated more harshly taking half or more of the plant off around November or December. It re-sprouts generously and if those branches are immediately tipped back again it forms a more dense and floriferous plant the next year."

 

From the Image Gallery


Tree poppy
Dendromecon rigida

Tree poppy
Dendromecon rigida

Harford's tree poppy
Dendromecon harfordii

More Pruning Questions

Trimming bloom stalks of iris
April 15, 2008 - Mr. Smarty: I live in Nevada, and have some very beautiful Iris plants. They have all blossomed and now I am left with stems. Is there any way I can cut them back so they blossom again? If so how shou...
view the full question and answer

Growing Grapes in Southern Texas on an Arbor
July 02, 2014 - I've redirected several grape vines (from the top third of a broken oak tree) onto an arbor. The base of the vine is about 3 or 4 inches in diameter. Is it feasible to work with (prune) the smaller b...
view the full question and answer

Removing Center Stem From Desert Spoon (Sotol) in Phoenix
March 11, 2016 - I have a desert spoon. I hate the center stem. Can I remove the center stem without hurting the rest of the plant? And what is the best way to remove it? I looked for this answer in your questions bu...
view the full question and answer

Pruning of Burning Bush in Missouri
October 15, 2008 - I live in MO and am pretty sure I have burning bushes on either side of my deck. My question is that they are huge and overgrown but I feel if I cut them lower and shape the sides up I will be left w...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting large Silverado Sage bushes from Mesa AZ
August 19, 2013 - We just bought a condo with three Silverado Sage, each one is 6-8 ft tall, trained to grow as "trees" with bare branches for the bottom 4 feet or so, and beautiful flowering branches on top. They ar...
view the full question and answer

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