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?


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
1 rating

Monday - June 15, 2009

From: Moody, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Bald cypress with chlorosis in Texas
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


I have a 6' tall Bald Cypress planted 2 years ago which just this year appears to be suffering from chlorosis. The tree was bought from a chain store. It receives some drainage water from my washing machine. Is it worth the effort to try to amend the soil etc. to help the existing Bald Cypress with its chlorosis or is it simply better in the long run to replace it with a more alkaline-tolerant tree? My soil is blackland clay with approx. 7.5 pH.


Bald cypress Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) is a majestic tree with soft, ferny foliage that enhances many landscapes. It prefers acidic soils (pH <6.8 ) and has no tolerance for calcium carbonate. The alkalinity of your soil is affecting the availability of iron to the plant which causes the chlorosis. If you are using chlorine bleach in your washing machine, the the wash water may be raising the pH. I would suggest directing it away from the tree, or stop using it altogether.

There are two approaches to your problem; one is to change the pH of the soil, and the other is to increase the availability of iron for the tree. The websites below explain the methodology and the pros and cons of each method.

Kansas State University Research and Extension

 Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service

Taxodium distichum










Should you decide to replace the Bald Cypress, the Texas Red Oak Quercus buckleyi (Buckley oak)  is a beautiful tree that can tolerate your alkaline soil.





More Trees Questions

Time to trim oak trees in Austin
October 29, 2011 - We have several large oak trees in desperate need of a good trimming. Given that the trees have had a very stressful drought year, when would be the best time to trim them?
view the full question and answer

Damaged Shumard oak tree in Polk County Texas
July 24, 2010 - I have a native Shumard Red Oak on our property in Polk County Texas that suffered damage (top blown out) during Hurricane Ike. Last year, one side of the tree browned early while the other side stay...
view the full question and answer

Dying leaves on Autumn Blaze Maple tree in Littleton, CO
May 25, 2012 - I have an autumn blaze maple where for the last two years the left side of the tree turns light green, then brown, and leaves die. The right side is dark green, normal. Is this a water over/under pr...
view the full question and answer

large tree suited for limestone site in Austin, TX
January 15, 2015 - I have a dying Chinaberry tree [35 ' tall; WNW corner of lot; at least 25 years old] that I am having removed. What native / adapted tree would you recommend to fill that void. I do understand that...
view the full question and answer

Ornamental plants for under live oaks
September 08, 2008 - What ornamental plant will do well under Live Oak trees?
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center