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
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

Texas sage losing inner leaves
May 14, 2015 - I have a Texas Sage bush that on the outside is beautiful with green leaves. The inside branches (the middle) of the bush are bare of any leaves. Why?
view the full question and answer

Repair of broken branch stump on pecan tree
July 18, 2007 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, big fan. Recently one of my pecan trees had a large branch break off, about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. The strange part was there was no clear sign of what caused the damage, i...
view the full question and answer

Can I trim back my 20 ft Yucca plant?
May 11, 2009 - I have a yucca tree which is about 20 ft. tall, has four main trunks. I would like to prune it to approx. 10 ft. but wonder if that will kill it or if new shoots will come out up near the cut.
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

Failure to bloom of Salvia greggii from San Antonio
June 29, 2011 - We bought Salvia greggii at the Wildflower Center Plant Sale three years ago and planted them in a well drained area. We cut them back early in the year as recommended at Go Native U classes. ...
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