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

Monday - August 11, 2014

From: Midland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Watering, Shrubs
Title: Recovery of water-stressed Agarita
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Hello! I planted a small agarita at the end of May and then left town for six weeks. During that time it was supposed to receive weekly deep irrigations to help it establish, but it seems that some weeks were missed and that in the other weeks the water may have been excessive. It now has many brown leaves - some entirely brown and some that are only green still in the very center. It really looks bad, though there are a few new young leaves that seem a healthy blue-green color. It also has three patches of webbing on it, but I don't see any holes in leaves. I was advised it may have been overwatered in my absence, so I have not yet watered it in the three weeks I've been home since (we did have a good rain nearly two weeks ago and I plan to water in a couple days.) Unfortunately it doesn't look any better than it did when I got home. Any advice for saving my plant? Thank you!

ANSWER:

Once established, Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita) is pretty tough, surviving severe mistreatment of the above-ground parts.  If the roots of your plant have taken hold at all, the plant should recover if you prune off the dead branches, leaving only the green leaf-bearing stems.  If in doubt, scrape the bark on a questionable branch.  If green shows under the bark the branch is still alive.  Revove the webbing - there may still be barberry webworms inside.  They may have eaten many of the emerging new leaves.  Keep the soil moist.  If it feels moist to your finger that is enough.  Mulch the base of the plant to help conserve moisture.

Agarita grows relatively slowly.  I would give your plant plenty of time to reover, perhaps even pampering it well into the autumn.

 

More Shrubs Questions

Caterpillars ate my Sophora in La Mesa, CA.
July 06, 2011 - Before I noticed what was happening, my newly-planted 1 foot tall Sophora secundiflora was eaten by caterpillars. It now has no foliage. Do you think it will leaf out again?
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of lantanas in San Antonio
July 22, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, We have lantanas in our front yard. This summer the leaves have turned white and they die to a brown color all the while the leaves are "crispy". At the beginning of the season...
view the full question and answer

Low maintenance replacement garden in Ashburn , VA
April 30, 2009 - We live in Ashburn, VA (Northern VA). Our house is 10 years old and the contractor grade plants have died. We are planning on digging everything up and re-doing the landscaping in our front yard - r...
view the full question and answer

Death of lantana in Bryan TX
March 28, 2013 - I would like to know what killed several new gold lantana in a single bed that died over the winter. They looked quite healthy last fall. I have several other new gold lantana that survived the wint...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen for privacy screen in San Antonio
April 30, 2012 - I am looking to plant native fast-growing evergreens that will provide privacy (growing taller than our fence). We live in San Antonio and the Red Tip Photinia seems to be everywhere! I heard that t...
view the full question and answer

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