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Mr. Smarty Plants - Sun-scorched Cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana)

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Wednesday - June 24, 2009

From: Spring Branch, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Sun-scorched Cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana)
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I live in south Central Texas 30 miles north of San Antonio. I am looking for a good evergreen hedge plant that once established will not die if I forget to water it a few days and is deer resistant. I would like something that grows fast provided I take care of it, but it has to be able to take the full sun for over 6 hours a day. I was thinking of Cherry Laurel Compacta but I bought a test plant and put it out in the sun and now the leaves are looking like they are being burned, and I am making sure it is not getting too dry. They had their Cherry Laurels under a tree at the nursery but they indicated they could take full sun but my test plant does not seem too happy with the change to full sun so far. Any suggestions on good privacy hedge for my area of Texas that the deer will not chew to the ground the first night they see them?

ANSWER:

Your test Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) likely got sun scorched because it had been growing in the shade.  Plants secrete a sort of sunscreen to protect the leaves from direct sun when they’re in a sunny location.  If they’re growing in the shade, they don’t produce the waxy coating.  This allows more light to penetrate to the leaves where it can be put to work in the photosynthetic process. 

Prunus caroliniana will grow in Comal County, but nearly all of the plants of this species we've seen in Central Texas have suffered from iron chlorosis.  That is, the foliage on Carolina Cherry-laurel around here is usually yellow and unattractive due to high soil pH.  So instead of an "evergreen" shrub, it'll likely be more of an "everyellow" plant.

Here are some other evergreen shrubs for Comal County that are reportedly deer resistant:

Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri (Lindheimer's silktassel) moderately deer resistant

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) highly deer resistant

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) moderately deer resistant

Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry) highly deer resistant

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) highly deer resistant

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) moderately deer resistant

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) highly deer resistant


Prunus caroliniana

Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri

Leucophyllum frutescens

Rhus virens

Mahonia swaseyi

Mahonia trifoliolata

Ilex vomitoria

Sophora secundiflora

 

 

 

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