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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - November 26, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Transplants
Title: Why is my Mountain Laurel in distress?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

We have planted our 2nd Texas Mountain Laurel in the same spot (after fresh berm built with sandy loam) and it is not looking good in less than 2 weeks. We have an identical berm on the other end of our house with a healthy mountain maurel and lantana but all that died on the other side. WE haven't replaced anything but the laurel which is looking yellowish and has dried up leaves on a branch which appears might have been damaged. There is no shade and we have watered almost daily. Does this sound like we are caring for it properly or a deeper soil issue?

ANSWER:

The Texas Mountain Laurel Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) is  a hardy plant that grows throughout the hill country in some rather inhospitable habitats, eg. growing out of limestone rocks. Therefore, it's disappointing when we try to nurture the plant without success.

I'm wondering about a couple of things. One is what happened to the Mountain Laurel that died, and how have things changed since it's demise? The second is the source of your new plant. The fact that it isn't looking good after less than two weeks since planting seems to indicate that the plant was under stress when you got it. If you bought it from a nursery, you might check on their return policy. If you are moving the plant from another location (ie. transplanting it), Mountain Laurels don't transplant well. The problem is that the tap root is long, and it is hard to get enough of it in the root ball for the plant to survive.

Mountain Laurel can grow in full sun to partial shade in dry rocky, well drained, alkaline soils. In your situation, I would suggest checking the soil pH, and reducing the amount of water.

Click on this link to learn more about caring for Texas Mountain Laurel

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

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