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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - June 09, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils, Watering, Shrubs
Title: How will my Texas Mountain Laurel survive clay soil?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Pants: I live in a new neighborhood (brownfield site) in Central Austin where the developers have put fill in the yards. After not much more than 2 inches of topsoil you encounter fairly plastic clay ..much like you see along the 35 corridor near Waco. They've planted a several gallon size mountain laurel. Is the clay soil is going to be a problem? If so, is there something I can to to augment the soil? The leaves are light green, not the dark glossy green I see on more established laurels. Thanks much.

ANSWER:

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel)  is a hardy shrub/tree whose habitat includes brushy slopes and open plains, and is common in limestone soils in the western and southern parts of the Edwards Plateau. It prefers well drained sand, loam, clay, caliche, limestone. The key here is well drained.

The problem with the clay soil could be the drainage. The clay around your Texas Mountain Laurel is also acting as a "clay pot " which will restrict the root growth and cause the plant to become root bound after a while.

There are two courses of action to follow, and you can do one , or both. The second best action is to expand the size of the hole the tree is planted in and substantially increase the volume of well-drained soil around the tree. The best thing to do is to replant the Sophora, but plant it on mounded soil 4-6" above the grade of the garden, again using well-drained soil. I'd do both.  Also I would wait until late fall to do the transplanting. In the mean time, water carefully so you won't drown your plant.

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Rocky Stream Bank Plants for Dallas, TX
July 02, 2015 - Need live stake shrubbery or tree ideas for a rocky stream bank prone to high water. Thank you
view the full question and answer

Identification of lantanas safe for use in Florida
February 10, 2008 - Why do you list lantana camara as a native to the U.S. and as a native plant in Florida? It is a category one invasive exotic on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's list of invasive exotics. La...
view the full question and answer

Low water hedge for Sedona, AZ
August 19, 2009 - I'm looking for a shrub to plant along a 90' property line with my neighbor in Sedona, Arizona (high desert). Ideally, the shrub would grow to about 8' and would not require too much water. What wo...
view the full question and answer

Rust on Amelancier Foliage in PA
February 03, 2015 - I live in Pennsylvania and have been plagued with a rust on my serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) trees over the past few years. I am unable to find very much information on this disease on the we...
view the full question and answer

Problem with American Beautyberry in Houston.
July 02, 2014 - My American Beautyberry is dying one branch at a time. The entire plant looks great, now flowering and starting to put out berries. Then one or two branches will completely die. Trim those off, wi...
view the full question and answer

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