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
27 ratings

Friday - May 01, 2009

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs
Title: Older leaves yellowing on Savannah holly in Dallas
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I planted a Savannah Holly in Dallas, TX in the Fall of 2008. It has new growth and some white buds all over it, but some of the older leaves are turning yellow and dropping off. Is this normal?

ANSWER:

There are thirteen members of the genus Ilex (holly) in our Native Plant Database, but none of them have the common name "Savannah." That is probably a trade name assigned by a grower to a hybrid of North American natives Ilex cassine (dahoon) and Ilex opaca (American holly). Even though both parents are natives, the "x" indicates a hybrid, and we do not have hybrids in our Native Plant Database.

According to the USDA Forest Service website Ilex x attenuata 'Savannah', the yellowing leaves sound like symptoms of chlorosis. Ilex opaca (American holly), in particular, likes acid soils, which you are not likely to have in Dallas. The problem is probably due to alkalinity in the soil beyond the plant's preferences. The alkalinity in the soil keeps the soil from accessing trace elements in the soil. this leads to iron deficiency. Suggested fixes were sprays of iron chelate, sulfur, and iron fertilizer. We prefer adding compost to the soil and mulching the roots with shredded wood bark, on a continuing basis. The compost will help with access to the trace elements, improve drainage in the soil, and help hold in moisture. The mulch protects the roots from heat and cold, holds in moisture, and as it decomposes, continues to amend the soil. 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Has overwatering harmed cherry laurels in Austin?
September 27, 2011 - I am so upset. I know we've been having a terrible drought this year in Austin, and I've been trying to balance water conservation with protecting our recent very large investment for massive lands...
view the full question and answer

Patio Privacy Screen Suggestions for Central Texas
March 17, 2013 - I have just built a patio and want to plant some small trees, bushes or shrubs to form a visual barrier (rather than to erect a fence)to the neighbors yard.
view the full question and answer

Garden instructions from Austin
June 12, 2013 - I'm a beginning gardener putting in some new landscaping in my front yard in north central Austin, TX. The yard faces almost due east, so it gets full sun until early afternoon, when the house's sha...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs and trees over septic tank in Killen AL
May 20, 2013 - Our church has 5year old blue rug juniper, a crape myrtle and two shrubs I can't identify planted over the septic tank which is surrounded with concrete and asphalt. I am afraid these will cause a pr...
view the full question and answer

Flowering shrubs and vines for San Angelo, Texas
May 28, 2015 - Hello What would be the best flowering shrubs and vines to plant here in dry San Angelo?
view the full question and answer

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