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

Friday - August 15, 2008

From: Sachse, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Transplants, Watering, Trees
Title: Proper watering of cedar elm trees in Sachse, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I've just planted two Cedar elm trees in clay soil, each about four inches in diameter, and I want to water them correctly. I'm aware that too much water can be bad as well as too little water. I don't want to endanger the trees because of improper watering.


We would have preferred that you plant the Ulmus crassifolia (cedar elm) in late Fall or early Winter, when the plant was dormant, and the heat was not so intense. However, now that you have it in the ground, it is going to need some tender loving care to keep it going. Sachse, in north central Texas, may not have had quite as extreme a drought and heat wave as Central Texas has, but close. Newly planted trees will almost surely have had some root damage, if not actually having had some root pruning, before they go into their permanent location. Clay soil is all right for the Cedar elm, but you do have to be careful not to overwater it and drown the roots. Hopefully, you amended the soil with some compost or other organic materials to loosen the dirt and improve the texture. Whether you did that or not, do mulch with an shredded hardwood mulch. This will protect the roots from the heat, and help to keep moisture in the ground. Also, as it decomposes, the mulching material will continue to add more organic material around the tree roots. Now, stick a hose down into the dirt around the roots, and water it with a very slow dribble until water appears on the surface. Then, watch and see how long the water takes to disappear. If it takes a half hour or more, the soil is not draining well at all. If it is draining normally, you can give the tree its drink of water every other day. If water does appear to be standing in the hole, give it less water but every day. This should go on until the weather cools and/or we get some rainfall. Keep a close eye on your tree, as it is susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease.This website gives comprehensive instructions for identifying and dealing with this very destructive disease.


From the Image Gallery

Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

More Transplants Questions

Transplanting native, protected Ostrich fern in New York
September 05, 2006 - Please give advice about how to transplant Matteuccia struthiopteris. What is the best time of year to do this?
view the full question and answer

Transplanting wildflowers slated for destruction in Buda, TX.
June 16, 2015 - TXDOT has recently informed our church that they will be taking a sizeable amount of natural area fronting a ranch road for lane expansion. We are devastated to lose an are we have planted and nurtur...
view the full question and answer

Dead woody plants in wildlife garden in Austin
March 02, 2011 - I am an enthusiastic and pretty successful wildlife gardener, have studied my Wasowski "Bible", but I can't get any evergreens established in my yard! We live on blackland clay, which I amend with ...
view the full question and answer

Transplant of non-native Lathyrus tuberosus in North Carolina
June 13, 2006 - I have a tuberous sweetpea vine that grows wild on our property. When would be a good time to move this plant to a better location?
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of one of two Texas persimmons from Wimberly TX
May 04, 2013 - Last year my son planted two texas persimmon trees. One is blooming ok this year and the other is not. It does not seem dead. What can I do or is is in fact dying?
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