Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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 - May 31, 2014

From: Rockwall, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Decline of sheared dwarf hollies from Rockwall TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have 20 year old established dwarf yaupon hollies in front of the house that I trim every year and shape the same. This year the new growth that was 2 1/2 " long I noticed the new leaves were curling and falling off. So I have not shaped. All I did this spring was put new hardwood mulch in just like every year before. Then a nursery told me to spray an all around control for mites, aphids, etc which I did but it is not stopping the die back. What should I do?? I live in Rockwall, TX 25 miles east of Dallas

ANSWER:

First, please read this  previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer partiucularly our comments on the projected age of a yaupon, as we are wondering if your plants could be suffering from old age, which happens. Of course, the dwarf yaupons are not, strictly speaking, in our Native Plant Database, but are cultivars of one of the native yaupons, probably of Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon), since that is the most common yaupon in Texas. We could not find any definitive information on how old they might get, so that didn't help much.

Then, we found this article from the Orlando Sentinel: Shearing can contribute to Yaupon Holly Decline ; which said:

"Q. Our yaupon holly hedge is dying in sections. Do you have a cure?

A. Native yaupon hollies are traditionally sheared and this may be part of the problem. Neat, compact hedges are often marred by dead, brown sections, especially during the summer months. A number of fungal organisms are encouraged by the consistently moist environment among the dense branches to begin growth and cause plant decline.

Try to revive the affected hedge by first pruning the dead portions back into healthy wood. Then apply a fungicide for ornamental plants found at your local garden center. As the hedge recovers, consider training it to a natural and open shape for better air movement among the limbs. This allows drying between rains or waterings. When pruning is needed, resist cutting the stems back to the same height to also encourage more open plant growth and quicker drying that prevents fungal activity."

Since that article refers to plants growing in Florida, the reference to applying a fungicide may not apply in dry Texas. So, we decided to search on the Internet for information on dwarf yaupons, of which there are several. The first thing we found was one of our own Mr. Smarty Plants previous questions specifically on dwarf yaupon, and also from Texas.

Moving farther on the Internet, we found that many of the references on dwarf yaupon were from Florida, so it must be quite popular there. Then, we found this one from the University of Florida Extension on Ilex Vomitoria 'Nana' Dwarf Yaupon Holly. This had a good deal more information on the management and culture of this plant and, since you have older plants, 'Nana" is probably the cultivar you have as it was one of the early ones.

We don't feel we have found a definitive answer for you and suggest you contact the County Extension Office for Rockwell County. If this is some kind of blight or disease or insect, they are more likely to know what it is than we are and can hopefully suggest a fix.

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Mountain Laurel suffering from Spring freeze
May 12, 2015 - I have a 4 1/2 ft Texas Mountain Laurel shrub in current location for several years. A hard freeze this spring killed every leaf on the tree, but the stems remained green. My other smaller Mt. Laure...
view the full question and answer

Area under live oaks from Austin
October 08, 2012 - We have many live oaks in our mostly shaded half acre. While I have tried to plant mostly native plants, often beneath them, the plants are showered with leathery leaves, acorns and sap, while oak sp...
view the full question and answer

Live oak leaves not dropping from Austin
April 29, 2014 - We had a 65 gallon live oak planted last October. We watered it regularly and it was green all through the winter. In March the leaves started to turn brown but never dropped, as they should have. ...
view the full question and answer

Reducing the Height of a Redbud Tree
January 23, 2016 - We have a very large, about 15-year old, Redbud tree that is growing so tall it's obstructing our view of the river. How and when can we prune this tree back so it does not hurt the tree.
view the full question and answer

Dead leaves on yucca in Georgetown TX
October 18, 2010 - We have 2 6ft and 3 smaller soft leaf yuccas out back in a kidney shaped area with a wax myrtle and a mountain laurel. The yuccas have done great but now two of them have a large number of dead leaves...
view the full question and answer

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