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 - March 13, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Soils, Transplants, Watering, Trees
Title: My newly planted Mountain Laurel isn\'t doing well.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

My mountain laurel was planted from a container in Dec. It is in part sun, clay soil, and its leaves are turning yellow. should I move it or will that kill it?

ANSWER:

 Mountain Laurel Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) is a hardy, slow growing evergreen with showy purple flowers. It prefers rocky, well drained soils with sand, loam, clay, caliche, limestone. It can live in full sun or partial shade, but blooms more abundantly in full sun. It is not very tolerant of being transplanted, so please don't move it.

You didn't mention the size/age of the plant, but it could be suffering from transplant shock. You say it is in clay soil which isn't the preferred type, and there is a tendency  for people to over water newly planted plants; so the combination of poorly drained soil with too much watering could be causing the problem.

I would suggest that you, without disturbing the roots any more than you have to, try to incorporate some organic material like compost or leaf mold into the soil to improve the drainage. Water deeply but infrequently. Trim up to 1/3 of the upper structure the foliage including the dying leaves. Leave enough leaves to nourish the plant, but not so many as to put undue stress on the developing root system.

This Plant Answers link has a lot of good information about caring for your Mountain Laurel.

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Problems with non-native Cleyera and Red-tip photinia
June 01, 2008 - I planted a row of Cleyera in a bed that receives sunlight for about 3 hours during the middle of the day. My problem is that a number of the plants are dying. It begins with the leaves on one small...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing vine for cinder block wall in Albuquerque
July 26, 2010 - I live in Albuquerque, N.M. and have a cement/cinder block wall and was wondering if there is a vine I can plant which will be easy to grow, grow fast and cover my wall without any type of help like a...
view the full question and answer

Using Horse Manure for the Garden
July 07, 2016 - Can you use horse manure for decomposed matter for your flower beds, etc.?
view the full question and answer

Poor drainage in clay soils in Langhorne PA
September 15, 2009 - Our backyard has very poor drainage, to the point of up to 3 inches of rain can sit until it is evaporated. Talking to neighbors, they informed us that there use to be a terrain that ran through our ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for sun in Phenix City, AL
April 04, 2011 - I live in Phenix City, AL and am new to planting. I have a 60 x 15 feet slope that is just dirt. I am going to till it next week and want to plant some various ground cover plants (that will grow to c...
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