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?


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


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?


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 Trees Questions

Care for indoor Lemon Cypress
November 30, 2008 - How do I care for an indoor Lemon Cypress tree?
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in Mountain Laurel in San Antonio, TX
June 03, 2011 - I planted a 2 ft. tall Texas mountain laurel a month ago. Some of the leaves have turned very yellow and some of them are falling off. The plant doesn't look real healthy in general. I did add s...
view the full question and answer

Deciduous shade tree for Inland California dry hills
July 26, 2011 - What type of tree would work well in our back yard? We're looking for a deciduous tree that doesn't grow too tall, maybe 20'. We'd like it to have spreading branches to provide shade during the su...
view the full question and answer

Tree with taproot for Jodhpur India
July 05, 2013 - I am a resident of India. I need information of a tree with tap roots to grow in my backyard. We have moderate to hot climate here. It needs to be as small as possible due to lack of space. It'd be g...
view the full question and answer

Decorative Trees for Scenic Bench in Fairhope IL
June 10, 2012 - I am looking for a recommendation for a pair of small trees (does not grow taller than 18-20 feet) that can provide shade on either side of a stone bench. The site is in full sun, western exposure an...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center