En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - April 27, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Transplants, Trees
Title: Failure of older branches on Bauhinia lunarioides to thrive
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We planted a sapling of the Anacacho Orchid Tree (Bauhinia lunarioides) winter (Jan, Feb?) and now it has leaves and blooms - but only off of new branches near its trunk, as the old branches haven't done anything, and appear to be dormant or dead. Should I wait for them to come back as this is normal, or did something happen to my little tree and I should just prune the old growth off and let it start anew?

ANSWER:

The Bauhinia lunarioides (Texasplume) is a very hardy desert plant, native to a few counties south and west of Austin. Since you planted it recently, we're wondering if it might be suffering from transplant shock. Sometimes roots are damaged, or don't get enough deep watering in their very early stages of development, both of which can cause visible damage on the upper part of the plant. Since Austin is about the northern limit of its range, experts suggest that it be planted on the south side of a building, protected from winter winds. We didn't have much winter this past year, but cold might have caused a problem in a newly-planted tree. Also, we saw sun exposure recommended ranging all the way from part shade, to dappled shade to full sun. Again, a newly planted tree getting more sun than it was used to could have suffered some leaf loss.

Probably your idea of trimming back what is dead is the best. Since it has already flowered, it can hardly be expected that some part of the plant is still dormant. Nipping off the dead branches will improve the appearance of the tree, and the tree won't waste time and energy trying to get sap up to those dead spots. If it is in full sun, it might be good to give it a little more water than you usually would, just for a while. Stick a hose down in the loose dirt around the roots, and just let a tiny trickle go in until the water is on the surface. This tree, like all desert plants, needs very good drainage, so don't overdo the water!


Bauhinia lunarioides

Bauhinia lunarioides

Bauhinia lunarioides

Bauhinia lunarioides

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Is a yucca going to have a stalk from Sylvania OH
March 15, 2012 - Hi, I was wondering if the stalk on a yucca plant grows back every year after it is cut off? How to tell if it is going to have a stalk because some of my yucca's do not have one? Thank you for your ...
view the full question and answer

Trimming bloom stalks of iris
April 15, 2008 - Mr. Smarty: I live in Nevada, and have some very beautiful Iris plants. They have all blossomed and now I am left with stems. Is there any way I can cut them back so they blossom again? If so how shou...
view the full question and answer

Shape of common ninebark in Canton MI
April 24, 2010 - I have planted one center glow ninebark in a triangular area in between my front walk and driveway. It looks a little odd just having one plant, but I originally did this b/c of the mature plant heig...
view the full question and answer

Tree removal from Austin
November 18, 2013 - Unfortunately we need to cut down a Spanish oak (11" diameter, over 50 feet tall) that is leaning against our upper story deck (if it falls, the roof, deck, and steel supports may be crushed). A lim...
view the full question and answer

Lilies not blooming from Austin
May 03, 2013 - Last December 8, you published a letter in the Statesman that I had written to you regarding Rain Lilies, Oxblood Lilies, and Copper Lilies. The were sprouting in my garage in a bag. You recommended...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center