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?


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

Monday - June 30, 2008

From: Breckenridge, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Transplants
Title: Decline of non-native weeping willow
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I live in Breckenridge, Texas and last year I planted a Weeping Willow tree on my property. It grew fine and seemed to be very healthy until this month. All of a sudden it has steadily lost all its leaves. They just gradually fell off from the tips of the branches on back to the trunk. I cannot find anything wrong with it, no dryness, no insects or anything I can identify. Can you give me some suggestions as to what I might try to help save this tree? Thanks for your time.


It sounds like transplant shock, from your description, even though the tree has been in the ground a year. A tree may go perfectly in a site, but is still going to need some coddling for the first year or so it is in the ground. Texas is having an excessively hot, dry Spring and early Summer, and weeping willows are considered water trees. I hope you have a hose that reaches that far; otherwise, you're going to be hauling buckets of water. You will need to monitor the moisture in the soil very closely, and drip water slowly from a hose stuck down in the soil around the roots.

Although there are 54 members of the Salix genus that are natives to North America, the weeping willow, or salix x sepulcralis, is not one of them. It is a hybrid of the Chinese Peking Willow and European white willow. This USDA Forest Service website has some more information on the weeping willow, including the fact that it is considered invasive in several states, and they don't show it growing at all in Texas. But what do they know? The same site says that the tree is susceptible to several diseases and insect damage, so, hopefully, your tree didn't come with some problem that is now emerging. We also found an ad for a "Texas weeping willow" which may be what you have, but it didn't give the Latin name for the tree, so we have no idea what that is. Here is a page of images of salix x sepulcralis.

Since the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the planting, protection and propagation of plants native to North America, we don't have any information on this tree in our Native Plant Database. Hopefully, watering as we recommended will perk your tree up. If you feel there may be a disease or pest problem, you might contact the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Office for Stephens County. This website has contact information, phone numbers and instructions for finding the office. Sometimes being on the scene and able to examine a plant "in person" can detect a problem that we, at a distance, cannot.


More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native hybrid willows dropping leaves in Downey CA
July 22, 2010 - I have 1 year old Hybrid Willows that are strong and 12 feet tall, with many branches. All of a sudden they are dropping their leaves in July. I got them for fast growing shade, now the branches are ...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping for property in Oaxaca Mexico
January 17, 2011 - I don't know if you can help me with this. I am building a house in Oaxaca Mexico, and I want to use native plants in the landscape. We are on the coast where it stays warm all the time. Do you kn...
view the full question and answer

Brown spots in St. Augustine grass
July 05, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, My husband and I are in the Air Force and were recently moved to Cibolo Texas. We built a home and hired a landscaper to finish the yard May 07 (with irrigation system). We laid d...
view the full question and answer

Replacing non-natives and kudzu in Spartanburg SC
July 12, 2009 - I would dearly love to cut down the red tips and leland cypress, as well as the 2 Savannah hollies and 15 ft cleyera which the kudzu has overrun along my property line, get rid of a chunk of lawn and ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of rubbery-looking tree with long green thorns
March 21, 2012 - I am trying to identify a tree that has a green rubbery look with long, sharp, green thorns. This tree is on my property in Conroe, TX and the soil type is Gladwater clay frequently flooded.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center