Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
1 rating

Tuesday - August 05, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Loss of leaves on yaupon in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Last winter I planted a Pride of Houston yaupon. Currently, the leaves at the tips of its stems are green and healthy, but the leaves along the stems are turning dark brown and falling off. Does it need more water?

ANSWER:

This one is a bit of a puzzle. Ordinarily, we think of Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) as being the Iron Man of plants, able to live and prosper in shade, sun, dry, wet. The research we did confirmed that, including that it tolerated most soils and even salt spray, which, of course, is not a threat in Austin. This USDA Forest Service website on Ilex vomitoria lists possible pests as being scale, leaf miners, mites and aphids, but said none are considered a threat to the long-term health of the plant. And if there were some insect or disease, you would think it would affect the leaves on the ends of the twigs as well as those in the center. You didn't say what sun exposure your plant has, but one clue we got was that the crown tended to thin out when there was not enough sun, and it had denser foliage when grown in the sun. So, because we really can't come up with anything else, and because this has been a fierce summer with a whole lot of heat and almost no rain, we're going to suggest that you treat it as transplant shock. First, prune the top about 1/4 to 1/3, thus opening the interior up to more sun and possibly better air circulation. Leave as many green leaves as possible for nutrition. Mulch the roots with a shredded hardwood mulch, which will conserve moisture, keep the roots cooler and eventually decompose to improve the texture of the soil. Now, water. Stick a hose down in the soil around the roots and let it slowly dribble until water appears on the surface. Do this every other day or so. If it begins to improve and perk up, then you can try a little balanced fertilizer, but not until it's doing better. Stressed plants can't take fertilizer.


Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Problems with Monterrey Oak in Austin
March 26, 2013 - We had a local tree service plant two Monterrey Oak trees on 4/2/2012. At the time we noticed that woodpeckers had had a field day on the trunk bark of both trees with the most damage being on the lar...
view the full question and answer

Newly planted anacacho leaf browning
October 15, 2007 - I have just put my anacacho orchid into the ground and its leaves are turning brown and falling off. Is that normal for this time of year, or have I shocked it? What can I do to ensure its health?
view the full question and answer

Should Mexican milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) not be used to attract Monarch butterflies?
November 20, 2015 - Should I remove Asclepias curassavica (Mexican milkweed) in my garden for threat of OE parasitic protozoan threat to Monarch butterflies? Is this threat as widespread as Chronicle implies? I had great...
view the full question and answer

Pruning live oak in Austin
April 28, 2012 - Hi, We recently purchased a house in South Austin and there is a huge Live Oak Tree about 6 feet from the back door (so so so love it!) The only real issues I have so far are: 1. Needing to trim a ...
view the full question and answer

Salvia, geum transplant shock symptoms
July 21, 2006 - I need some help. I transplanted 2 xeriscape plants and they are not doing well. 1 is Pitcher Sage-sorry I don't know botanical name; the other is White Avens. The've grown a lot but all the leave...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.