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

Sunday - May 02, 2010

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Cold damage to Texas wild olive tree in San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a Texas Olive tree that was unprotected from the 2010 cold winter here in San Antonio, TX. It is the end of April and there is no sign of growth on any of the branches. If the tree is still alive, when can I expect to see signs of growth? Should I assume the tree is dead and replace or should I continue to wait and see?

ANSWER:

From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer:

 

"We have been receiving many questions regarding what to do after the sudden hard freeze that occurred recently in Central Texas. One thing that applies in every case is, don't fertilize. Plants should be fertilized in the Spring, when you want to encourage new shoots to appear. The last thing you want to do is encourage new shoots now that will put more stress on already-stressed roots.

You may already know what happened; actively growing plants still have water in their upper structure, particularly the leaves. A sudden hard freeze causes that water to expand, bursting cell walls in the leaves, and they quickly turn dark and look pathetic. What made this freeze worse was that it was earlier than we ordinarily expect these conditions in this part of Texas, very sudden, temperatures went down very far, and remained below freezing for several hours. A gradual decrease in temperature over a period of time increases the ability of plants or plant parts to withstand cold temperatures. A sudden decrease in temperature in late fall or early winter usually results in more damage than the same low temperature in January or February.

The information that you found in our database is exactly what we know about the hardiness of the Cordia boissieri (anacahuita).  Was your plant protected from those hard, cold winds we had during our cold snap? If so, that might give you a better prognosis. The first thing to do is determine how much of the tree is still alive. Obviously, the leaves, probably black, are going to drop off. On the trunk and branches, use the thumbnail test. Scrape away a very fine, very small layer of the bark, beginning with upper branches and working down toward the base. If there is still some green beneath that scraping, that part of the plant is still alive. If it is black or even slimy beneath the outer bark, that portion of the plant should probably be marked for pruning. The good news is that the bark and woody portions of the tree have stronger cell walls, and are not so apt to burst in freezing. 

From Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension this article Follow Proper Pruning Techniques will give you some good information on what and when to prune. In any case, we would not disturb it except to remove dead areas, and wait to see if it starts to come back in the Spring. Hopefully, the roots were well enough protected by the soil to keep them from freezing, too.

This is an illustration of why the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends the use of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. You knew you were gambling to plant the Mexican olive this far north; we hope that you will ultimately win the gamble and retain a live tree."

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Cordia boissieri

Cordia boissieri

Cordia boissieri

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Native plants for city lot in Longview, TX
March 19, 2008 - Just bought a city lot in Longview, TX and want to put in some plants at the periphery even before the house is built. Can you recommend any that would be from your list of East TX plants that are pa...
view the full question and answer

Retention pond from Hendersonville NC
April 24, 2012 - We have a retention pond that has recently been cleaned and we would like to plant perennial native plant and grass seeds that will enhance the appearance and contribute to the natural process of filt...
view the full question and answer

Dogwoods cross-pollinating from Snyder, CO
October 24, 2012 - I have a red twig and a yellow twig dogwood. Will they cross-pollinate to produce berries? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Can lantana be grown in British Columbia from Vernon BC
October 20, 2012 - Can I grow lantana in Vernon B.C. Canada?
view the full question and answer

Alternative for Pittosporum limelight
March 22, 2012 - Is it ok to plant a Pittosporum limelight by pool? Don't want bees! Needs to be 6 feet. Thanks.
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