We always get a lot of questions from our customers about the purple bushes that appear all around town after the monsoon rains begin. Texas rangers are drought tolerant plants that are used extensively in our landscapes and along our roadways, and each year they patiently and inconspicuously wait until it’s their time to shine. When summer rains bring higher humidity, these shrubs suddenly explode with beautiful pink or purple blossoms. If the Texas rangers in your yard refuse to bloom year after year, the problem may lie in how or when you’re pruning them. Continue reading for tips on how to prune a Leucophyllum without hindering its flower power.
Texas rangers are a familiar sight in Tucson, especially around fast food restaurants and retail buildings. They’re the perfect plant for these types of establishments because they’re evergreen, drought and heat tolerant, and they don’t seem to mind being sheared into the smooth balls or hedges that many of us expect to see in well-manicured landscapes. However, Leucophyllums don’t typically need much pruning to look great, and the constant maintenance that comes with keeping them smoothly sheared removes the majority of the new bud wood that produces their flowers. Shearing also causes the foliage on interior branches to thin out, which reduces the plant’s ability to produce food and bolster its defenses.
If it’s absolutely necessary to keep your plants pruned, consider this two-step naturalistic pruning method that allows more light into the plant’s interior branches. This will reduce the plant’s size while allowing it to grow in a more natural manner; requiring less pruning to look tidy, and producing more leaves and flowering wood.
Pruning at the right time of year is another way to get more flowers on your Texas rangers. Because they only bloom on new growth, it’s important to prune before the plant starts actively growing. If you’re hard pruning for size reduction or to refresh an older leggy plant, the best time is in early fall after it has finished blooming. You can hard prune in early spring as well, but the plant will have less time to recover before the blooming season begins. Keep in mind that your plant may need protection during a hard winter freeze if it was pruned in fall.
A light pruning in early spring increases production of new bud wood throughout the late spring and early summer. This allows the plant to flower in late spring if it feels so inclined, and also gives it plenty of time to build up for the big show that comes later with the summer monsoons.