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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.

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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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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!

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Monday - March 09, 2009

From: Mission, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Transplants
Title: Failure to thrive of non-native Purple Orchid Tree
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We planted purple orchid tree Texas,zone 9 two weeks ago and all leaves turned brown.My husband used root stimulator with enough water as the instructions said.We took all brown leaves off and now it's bare and needs help.

ANSWER:

Bauhinia variegata, Purple Orchid Tree, or Bauhinia purpurea, also called Purple Orchid Tree are both native to temperate and tropical Asia and therefore out of the range of expertise of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. We recommend the use of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being planted. Native plants will need less water, fertilizer and maintenance to thrive. It does sound as though your tree is suffering from transplant shock, and perhaps the root stimulator contributed to that, we are not familiar with the effects of its use. If you want to try treating it as transplant shock, prune off about the upper 1/4 of the tree, now, while it's still relatively cool. Make sure there is very good drainage around the roots, as they cannot tolerate standing in water. Give it a good deep watering about twice a week, and keep your fingers crossed.

Here are a couple of articles about Bauhinia, since we have no information on it in our Native Plant Database.  Floridata  on Bauhinia variegata and the USDA Forest Service on Bauhnia Purpurea.

 

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