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Monday - April 14, 2008

From: Boerne, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Watering, Trees
Title: Sudden death of Texas Mountain Laurel
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Last year, my 15-year-old Mountain Laurel died very suddenly. The leaves began to curl up and turn brown, and it was dead within about 15 days. What happened?

ANSWER:

Since you didn't mention any sort of insect disturbance or contamination from spraying nearby with herbicides, we are guessing that your tree died by drowning. Boerne, between San Antonio and Kerrville on US Hwy. 87, should ordinarily be dry enough to satisfy the needs of the Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) for good drainage. However. last year's weather was very unusual in Central Texas, and we had an awful lot of rain. If your Mountain Laurel had survived that many years, it could mean that the drainage where it was planted had not been challenged. If it was under roof drainage, in the path of runoff, or just in a hole with bad drainage, the roots may have stood in water longer that it could survive. Obviously, there's nothing you can do to recover your lost tree; however, if you choose to replace it, be aware of the drainage needs. Don't plant it somewhere that could be in the path of heavy runoff, work some humus (compost, etc.) into the soil, and make sure it's not at the bottom of a slope or a dip in the property. This tree is accustomed to growing on limestone shelves, with rocks for soil, and water a rarity.

 

 

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