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Mr. Smarty Plants - Problems with Anacacho Orchid tree in Austin

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Monday - May 17, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Problems with Anacacho Orchid tree in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have an Anacacho Orchid that is about 9ft tall. It is early May and has not started to put out leaves yet on the old growth. I can't even see any noticeable buds yet. It is still alive because I have scratched off some bark on the ends of some branches and it's green. There are some suckers growing from underneath the soil at the trunk. Is this normal for an Anacacho Orchid after a cold winter? It has always started leafing out in March/April prior to this year.

ANSWER:

Bauhinia lunarioides (Texasplume) is not shown to be growing in this area of Central Texas on this USDA Plant Profile map, but rather south and west of here.

From the webpage on this plant in our Native Plant Database:

"Native Habitat: Canyons & arroyos in limestone hills. Known only from canyons and arroyos in limestone hills in Kinney, Presidio, and Gillespie or Llano counties. Well-drained sand, loam, limestone."

"Conditions Comments: Does best when planted on the south side of a building, protected from winter winds."

We know this tree can and does grow in Central Texas, but the whole state has had harsh weather this year. Since it is not native to this part of Texas and still rather rare, we have very little experience in its habits and problems. Don't try fertilizing, right now the roots are trying to recover from the cold and do not need to be prodded into new growth by the fertilizer. Spring-flowering shrubs bloom on last season's growth and should be pruned soon after they bloom. This allows for vigorous summertime growth and results in plenty of flower buds the following year.  Pruning these shrubs in the fall would remove the buds, and diminish spring flowering. It could be that you will have to cut it back to the ground because of being frozen back, but you might as well give it time to show some life and not prune during hot weather, always a problem in Texas. Since you have suckers, you know the roots are alive. Make sure the roots are in a well-drained situation; like many desert plants, this one cannot tolerate wet feet. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Bauhinia lunarioides

Bauhinia lunarioides

Bauhinia lunarioides

Bauhinia lunarioides

 

 

 

 
 

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