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
1 rating

Wednesday - October 07, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Coralberry in Central Texas has lost leaves
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe

QUESTION:

I planted a coralberry this past spring. It seemed to be doing well, but then I noticed some of its leaves were missing. Gradually, all the leaves disappeared, from the top of the plant down. It is about a foot high, and it took a few days--a couple of weeks, I think--for all the leaves to be gone. Someone suggested that deer were eating them, but that's not it: mine is the only coralberry plant for miles around, and no deer is coming to my neighborhood just to munch on a tiny coralberry bush. When all the leaves were gone, I started to pull the plant up, but didn't. All summer, it was there but bare. Last week, when it got a little cooler and we had some rain, the leaves started growing again. I was hopeful that it would come back. Now the leaves seem to be disappearing again. What is it? Parasol ants? Leafcutters? What do you suggest? I live in 78744, the Dove Springs area. I put some bone meal in the hole and a little mulch around the plant when I planted it. What's up--any ideas? Ken S.

ANSWER:

If the Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry) lost only leaves (not stems) this summer and you haven't seen any evidence of ants, then deer and ants may not be the problem at all. This summer has been so severely hot and dry that vulnerable young plants have taken a beating. First, let's see if the plant is still alive. Carefully scrape a little bark off of the stem, down toward the base of the plant. Is there green under the surface? If so, your Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry) is still with us, and may recover over time. If not, chances are that it's a victim of the tough summer and the sudden change to extremely wet conditions.

If it's dead, try not to judge too hard from this experience. Once established, Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry) is plenty tough and readily spreads both underground and by means of the longs shoots that spring from the main stem. Over time, it can create a dense network of roots and stems, and the long-lasting berries make a nice display through the fall and winter.

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry) is a woodland understory plant, so if this plant comes back or you try a new one, make sure the planting site doesn't bake in summer sun. The layer of mulch is very much the right thing. Since local soils tend to be high in Calcium-rich clay, you may want to avoid putting bone meal in the soil for this particular plant, since it has a low CaCO3 tolerance, and the high Phosphorus levels in bone meal would increase the soil pH.

 


Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus
 

More Shrubs Questions

Non-fruiting Willamette raspberry plant in Wateford CA
May 23, 2013 - I have a 2 year old Willamette Raspberry plant that has many blooms, bees, great growing conditions, very healthy but has never set one fruit. I know about pruning. Any suggestions? It has been bloomi...
view the full question and answer

Difference between Styrax platanifolius and Styrax patanifolius ssp. texanus
November 18, 2011 - What is the difference between a Styrax platanifolius and a Styrax platanifolius texanus?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a bank too steep to mow
June 24, 2009 - Like the inquiry made in late June of 2008, mine involves a bank that is too steep to mow. However, ours is facing south. I am looking for a native grass, plant or groundcover. Any suggestions? ...
view the full question and answer

Native perennials for Donley County, TX
July 16, 2009 - What are the best perennials to plant in Donley County, TX?
view the full question and answer

Windbreak [Dustbreak] for Shelton, WA
May 31, 2013 - I live on a well traveled, dusty, gravel road in the Pacific North West and would like to plant a barrier to help control the dust.
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