En Español

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
3 ratings

Tuesday - November 06, 2007

From: Sunnyvale, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders, Transplants
Title: Transplanting care of Mayten tree (Maytenus sp.)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I planted a Mayten tree 2 years ago. It's about 8 feet tall. The trunk is about 1-1/2 or 2" in diameter. The earth around it sunk and now there is a "bowl" that fills with water in the rain. I'm afraid it will rot the base of the trunk. Can I dig up the tree, then very quickly have someone push dirt in the hole and then put the tree right back down in the earth without hurting the tree?

ANSWER:

There are two species of Maytenus, the mayten tree, that occur in the continental United States and only one of those, Maytenus phyllanthoides, is native.

The species that generally occurs in California, Maytenus boaria, is not native to North America and I am supposing that this is the one that you have. Although our focus and expertise here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is on plants native to North America, we are happy to point you to advice on non-native plants if we can. Here is some information about care of the mayten tree from the the San Francisco group, Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF). The care instructions from FUF does indicate that the tree needs good drainage. Another urban forest group, Canopy, based in Palo Alto, California, lists "collar, foot and crown rots" as problems for the mayten tree which certainly could occur from not having good drainage. So, definitely, you need to remedy your "bowl" situation. If you can remedy the situation by cutting down the edges of the bowl without disturbing the roots of the tree, that would seem the least disturbing situation for the tree. If, of course, that exposes tree roots, then you may have to resort to digging up the tree and filling in the hole a bit. Here is some general advice about transplanting trees from the University of California Cooperative Extension.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native crepe myrtles in Coleman, TX
March 06, 2009 - We want to plant 2 white crepe myrtle trees on our family cemetery plot in Coleman TX. Once they get established, they will be pretty much on their own. Wind and sun are abundant. Rain is scarce. ...
view the full question and answer

Care of Rio Grande Wild Petunia
July 17, 2007 - I have bought the Rio Grande Wild Petunia, Ruellia davisiorum. How should I look after it?
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native privet in Austin
November 15, 2010 - My 2 privet shrubs/bushes facing the east in a shady area seem to be have less leaves and dead flowers, while across a walk way that 1 privet shrub/bush has lots of green leaves with lots of dying flo...
view the full question and answer

Milkweed and non-native goatweed in Austin
May 28, 2011 - Which parks or fields can we find many milkweed and goatweed in Austin, TX? I live in Austin, TX 78757.
view the full question and answer

Plant ID of invasive vine from Austin
August 21, 2013 - A friend lives in southwest Austin and has a vine that's coming up all over her yard. I am a Williamson County Master Gardener and have asked all the garden gurus in my group what it is from a photo ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center