Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
2 ratings

Friday - March 27, 2009

From: Krum, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Transplants, Trees
Title: Planting a Texas Persimmon in rocky soil in Krum TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

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 cursed)" with quite a lot of rock on my lot and while digging the hole, I found rock. I have dug and jackhammered out a hole about 3' in diameter and 2 feet plus deep at this time. There is around 8" of good top soil before the rock and I plan on adding a few more inches to raise the bed before I plant the tree. My question is, is this a large enough hole for the tree to survive and thrive or should I continue to remove rock until I get dirt? Thanks.

ANSWER:

When we first read your question we figured you HAD to be from around Austin, and we were going to warn you that digging much deeper in that rock might cause you to hit the Edwards Aquifer. Turns out you're in far North Central Texas, almost to the Red River, which we always thought of as more nearly sandy East Texas soil. So, Mr. Smarty Plants can be wrong, frequently is. Are there native Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon) already living in your area, wild? There easily could be, as its habitat is in North, Central, East and West Texas, in rocky soil, open woodlands. Another question: Can your plant out of the pot fit into the hole you already have without the roots resting on that rock? It sounds like it probably will. You don't want to present newly planted baby roots with a rock wall their first day out of the pot.  You and your jackhammer have already taken care of that.

So, here's the plan. You're going in the right direction adding some dirt and raising the bed, not just because of the rock, but because the persimmon needs very good drainage. And instead of just adding dirt, add some good compost and mix it in a fairly wide area around your hole. Before you put that plant into the hole, do some root pruning. Two years in a pot, and those roots are probably circling around and around, hunting fresh dirt, which you are about to provide them. Unfortunately, once roots get going in that circle, or root-bound, they are not naturally inclined to come out of it. So, go around with heavy clippers and cut some of those roots through. We know this sounds brutal, but they will survive, and those cut root ends will start putting out rootlets to find the nutrition and water the plant needs to survive. The reason we are recommending that you amend the soil fairly far around the tree root is that when those roots first hit that rock beneath them, they are going to start to spread. Most tree roots are in the upper 6 to 12 inches of the soil anyway, where they can access moisture, nutrients and oxygen more easily. Because you probably have alkaline soil, as most of Texas except East Texas does, the compost will help those roots access the trace elements in the soil that they need, as well as contribute to the good drainage this plant requires. Last, mulch your newly-planted tree with a good quality shredded hardwood mulch, which will help hold in moisture and protect the roots from heat and cold. As it decomposes (and you will have to replenish it from time to time) it will add further to the organic compost of the dirt and continue to improve the texture. Two or three times a week, stick a hose way down in that newly planted soil and let it dribble very slowly until water appears on the surface. Do this until you're comfortable that the tree can make it on its own. And get that tree planted soon-don't ever plant anything in the Texas heat, as that can cause transplant shock, and you could lose the whole tree, and all the effort and jackhammer expense you have already put into it.  


Diospyros texana

Diospyros texana

Diospyros texana

Diospyros texana

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Dividing blackeyed susans in Lake Ronkoko NY
July 06, 2009 - How are you supposed to divide blackeyed susan's? And when is the best time to do this?
view the full question and answer

Use of cedar/juniper mulch in wildflower meadows
August 31, 2013 - What to do with freshly shredded cedar/juniper mulch? We have a pile of freshly ground cedar mulch that we can either keep in a large pile until it has composted(but the neighbors are complaining), or...
view the full question and answer

Decline of Japanese ferns in Austin
June 16, 2008 - I've enjoyed beautiful Japanese ferns in my shaded garden for about ten years. They are looking spent and straggly, despite fish emulsion, compost,and lots of mulch and soaker hose watering in the s...
view the full question and answer

Plant for part sun in Nampa Idaho
May 20, 2010 - What could I plant in arid SW Idaho on the northwest side of my house along a border against the house? Most of the day this area is in shade, but at the hottest time of the day it gets a couple of h...
view the full question and answer

Plants for clay soil in Leavenworth IN
October 02, 2009 - I live in south central Indiana; the soil is very bad clay, either hard as a rock or mud. I have made several raised beds but am still having problems with plants rotting. What types of plants work he...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.