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

Friday - August 22, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Compost and Mulch, Transplants
Title: Browning leaves on non-native Burford holly
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have several dwarf Burford hollies whose leaves are browning. The individual leaves have colors of green, dark brown to light brown extending from the stem. Any ideas?

ANSWER:

Ilex cornuta (USDA Forest Service), Burford Holly, is a non-native perennial evergreen shrub. Since it is sometimes referred to as "Chinese" holly, we are assuming that the natural origin is in China or other parts of Asia. They grow best in rich, well-drained, slightly acid soil. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we recommend the use of plants native to North America and to the area in which they are being grown, because they will be better adapted to the environment, needing less water, fertilizer and maintenance. However, we will try to help you out with some information.

Tea scale (North Carolina Cooperative Extension) is one of the pests that can cause similar symptoms. It apparently originated the same place as the Burford hollies. China and Japan, and was imported into the United States on Camellias.

Aphids (Virginia Cooperative Extension). Light infestations are usually not harmful to plants, but higher aphid populations cause leaf curl, wilting, stunting of shoot growth as well as general decline in plant vigor.

You didn't say when you had planted the bushes. If it was fairly recently, they might be suffering from transplant shock. In which case, trimming off the upper 1/4 to 1/3 of the plant, leaving as many green leaves as possible for nutrition should be your first step. Next, we have a clue in the fact that this plant prefers acid soil, and we all know that in Austin, it's way alkaline. Try working some compost or other organic material in around the roots of the plants, then mulch with shredded bark compost or pine needles. These will not only help the texture and drainage of the soil, but add to the acidity. Now, stick a hose deep down in the soil and let it dribble water slowly until water appears on the surface. If the water stays more than half an hour or so, you have poor drainage, but the continued use of organic material and mulch should begin to address that. And,of course,we always have the fact that this has been a long, difficult, dry Summer in Central Texas and everything, including people, seems to be turning brown and curling. If none of these appear to be the problem, we suggest you contact the Travis County Extension Office, in hopes they will be aware of similar problems in the area and have recommendations.

 

More Transplants Questions

Care of recently propagated Century Plant from Litchfield Park AZ
April 24, 2011 - To germinate some century plant seeds I put them in dirt and put the pot in a tray of water. Now, I have 3 sprouts about an inch tall and they came up about an inch apart. Question is, how should I w...
view the full question and answer

Problems with transplanted Texas Madrones from Junction TX
May 13, 2014 - We planted 3 little Texas madrones last year 9 - 12 inches high. 2 of them seem to have some kind of black blight along the edges of the leaves that I don't think was the result of our late freezes. ...
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

Propagation of Lime Prickly Ash in Austin
March 22, 2010 - We found only one small what we think is Zanthoxylum fagara or Lime Prickly Ash, Colima on our 8 acres, and the deer had apparently recently broken the main stem. I quickly made 6 or 7 cuttings, dippe...
view the full question and answer

Planting a Texas Persimmon in rocky soil in Krum TX
March 27, 2009 - I have recently purchased a 10 gallon Texas Persimmon plant that I want to put as a highlight plant in my yard. According to the nursery, it has been in the pot for 2 years. I have been "blessed(or...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center