Issue: July 22, 2006

Pruning tree for safety in summer | What's that pretty shrub with purple flowers?

Pruning tree for safety in summer


It is summer, and I know it isn't good to prune trees during the summer. However, there are branches on my honeylocust tree that block my view as I exit my driveway. I'm worried that I will have an accident because of the branches. How badly will it hurt the tree if I prune the branches now?


Major pruning of deciduous tree branches should be done during the dormant season, but minor pruning and safety pruning can be done anytime. In fact, safety pruning to remove hazard branches, even healthy branches, should be done immediately to prevent accidents.

A honeylocust tree has very flexible branches that seem to suddenly bend lower to the ground as they add new leaves each year. A branch that was not a problem may suddenly lower and block your view as growth at the end of the branch causes it to droop. Larger branches are usually strong enough to hold up, but smaller branches are more prone to this drooping. It will not hurt the tree to prune such branches during the summer.

Any time you prune a tree branch, you should prune it properly - that means you should not top the tree or reduce the branch to a stub. Prune the branch back to another branch (one at least one-third the size of the branch being removed) or completely remove the branch at its point of origin from the trunk or larger branch. When pruning a branch at its point of origin, do not cut the branch collar. The branch collar is the slight swelling at the base of the branch being cut. This slight swelling contains tissues of the branch that will remain and helps protect a tree from the entry of diseases through the pruning cut.

When safety is involved, prune NOW - and remember to prune properly.

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What's that pretty shrub with purple flowers?


I have recently seen some small shrubs with white leaves that are literally covered with purple flowers. These are beautiful! What are they?


You are probably describing a species or cultivar of Leucophyllum. These plants love heat and flower when the monsoons bring rain. They have many common names. Some of these are violet silverleaf, cenizo, violet Texas Ranger, and Texas sage. They have been grown successfully in southern New Mexico for years, but in recent years I have found them growing and doing well as far north as Albuquerque. In protected locations (warm courtyards, etc.), they may survive and flower even further north.

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For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension publications World Wide Web site at

Send your gardening questions to:
Yard and Garden, ATTN: Dr. Curtis Smith
NMSU Cooperative Extension Service
9301 Indian School Road, NE, Suite 112
Albuquerque, NM 87112

Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.