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

Copper Canyon daisy leaves turning yellow in Spring Branch TX
September 01, 2010 - My Copper Canyon daisies have grown well this year but the leaves are turning yellow. Any ideas?
view the full question and answer

Pruning the leaves of Sago Palm.
March 10, 2010 - Is it a cardinal sin to remove all the sago palm branches? This winter they were so badly scorched by the cold that hardly a frond went unaffected. So I cut them all off as I needed to get around the...
view the full question and answer

Pruning overgrown Texas sage
February 15, 2016 - Texas sage bushes have been left to grow like mini trees. Can we have trimmed back to get a 'full' bush? Bottom 2 feet of plant look so dead. Will it sprout again as a bush if trimmed back and do...
view the full question and answer

Corkscrew willow damage to roof in Detroit, MI.
August 13, 2009 - I have a corkscrew willow (Detroit, MI) that is huge and whose branches hang on top of the asphalt shingles of my mobile home. It has now been discovered that these shingles, under the branches, are ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Spruce Pine (Prunus glabra)
September 02, 2015 - I have a Pinus glabra/spruce pine that is approx. 7' tall. It's limbs are few and some have been broken. Will trimming back the longer limbs to give it a Christmas shape harm this tree?
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center