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 - 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 Soils Questions

User comments on soils from Austin
July 02, 2013 - You had a question this month about chlorosis in a Mexican plum in Bellaire. You correctly, in my opinion, answered that the problem was most likely overwatering. However, I just wanted to point out a...
view the full question and answer

Plants that will grow in clay in North Carolina
March 14, 2008 - I have a small fenced back yard, predominately hard red clay, that is a major focal point. I am designing my own garden/yard area (to cut cost) and have a list of plants that will grow in this soil w...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping with native plants in Austin
October 06, 2005 - I'm expanding a flower bed in front of my house and would like to keep it all natives. 1) How do I find out what type of soil I should add? (I live near Hyde Park, Austin and haven't had a soil te...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control on slope from Columbia SC
April 25, 2013 - We are in the process of having a new home built in Columbia South Carolina. Part of the front yard has a steep slope starting approximately four feet from the corner of the house and running to the ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for clay soil in Lathrop MO
March 21, 2011 - My family just moved to the north Kansas City, MO area and would like to know what native species, both perennial and tree, will do best in the clay soil. It has already proven problematic as we have ...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center