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?

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
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

Tuesday - March 17, 2009

From: Wharton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Compost and Mulch, Shrubs
Title: Yellow leaves on non-native pittisporum in Wharton TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Green pittisporum that I planted 2 years ago and 1 year ago are getting a lot of yellow leaves. Variegated pittisporum that I planted at the same 2 times are doing fine.

ANSWER:

Pittosporum is a group of plants native to China, Japan and Australia. As such, they are out of our range of expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where we specialize in the use, care, and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. However, yellowing of the leaves, referred to as chlorosis, can occur in native as well as non-native plants.

Chlorosis is a yellowing of leaf tissue due to a lack of chlorophyll. Possible causes of chlorosis include poor drainage, damaged roots, compacted roots, high alkalinity, and nutrient deficiencies in the plant. Nutrient deficiencies may occur because there is an insufficient amount in the soil or because the nutrients are unavailable due to a high pH (alkaline soil). Or the nutrients may not be absorbed due to injured roots or poor root growth.

If the soil is not draining well, the roots will be inhibited from picking up the trace elements in the soil, especially iron, and that will result in the plants becoming chlorotic. The major cause of chlorosis is a deficiency of one of the essential micronutrients such as iron or manganese. This deficiency occurs not because the nutrients are lacking in the soil but because they are unavailable due to alkaline soil. At these higher soil pH levels (6.5 and above) many trees and shrubs are incapable of taking up adequate amounts of iron or manganese. Central Texas has a lot of alkaline soil; however, some compost mixed into the soil or used as a top dressing often will address the problem, providing better drainage, reducing the alkalinity and improving the texture of the soil and permitting access to the trace elements needed.

Pictures of chlorotic plants.

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Death of Tecoma stans after heavy rain
July 21, 2008 - I had two esperanza plants. They have been planted for about four months, this spring. They were blooming and growing. We had six inches of rain in five days and they began to wilt - and then they d...
view the full question and answer

Cardboard or newsprint for mulch from Cedar Park TX
June 09, 2012 - What is your opinion on using cardboard and/or newspaper for mulch in flower beds or around trees?
view the full question and answer

Buffalo grass and other native grass for lawn in Central Texas
March 17, 2008 - Hi, I live in Cedar Park, TX - recently moved to into a newly built house. I wanted to put some native grass (like buffalo) in the back yard. - My back yard has slope (away from house) and front...
view the full question and answer

Clay hill with erosion problems in Reedsport OR
July 10, 2009 - We have a very steep 35-40' clay hill subject to erosion in the Oregon rainy season. How or what do we do to get some kind of vegetation/grass, etc to grow without washing away? We have had mudslides...
view the full question and answer

Browning leaves on non-native Burford holly
August 22, 2008 - 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?
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center