En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - May 20, 2010

From: Allen, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Transplants, Trees
Title: Why doesn't my Possum Haw have berries this year?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


A possumhaw holly has no berries as of mid-May. I planted this possumhaw last summer - it had lots of berries. Why would it have no berries this year? This spring I have two yaupons with lots of berries, 6 carissa hollies, and 6 dwarf yaupons all within 100 feet of the possumhaw. The possumhaw lost many of its leaves and all of its berries last summer shortly after planting due to sunburn and too little water. It appears healthy now with a full set of leaves and new growth.


Mr. Smarty Plants thinks that you and your possumhaw are experiencing transplant shock. This is common in many plants when the come from their nice cozy pot, and are placed in a hole in the yard. The first order of business for the plant is to get a root system established in order to support the leaves on the upper portions of the plant. You made the job harder by planting in the summer and not adequately watering the plant. The leaves and berries didn't have sufficient water, and fell off. The plant probably didn't flower this year, but the showing of leaves is an encouraging sign that the plant is recovering. However, you still have a stressed plant in your yard. It is important that the plant receive adequate water, but no fertiliser this year.

I've included two websites that thoroughly cover tree planting and transplant shock: one is from the University of Kentucky  (scroll down to find the Transplant shock portion) and the other is from treesaregood.org.

This answer to a previous question covers a situation similar to yours.


From the Image Gallery

Ilex decidua

Ilex decidua

More Transplants Questions

Transplant time for Virginia Beach, VA
July 08, 2009 - I have a friend who is not a gardener but lives on a piece of property that has a gorgeous back yard with lots of plants, shrubs and trees that are becoming overgrown. I have her permission to dig up...
view the full question and answer

Planting Anacacho orchid tree in Llano, TX
October 05, 2011 - Re Bauhinia lunarioides: I'm trying to pick a good site in Llano Co for a 5 gal tree I received as a gift. Your plant database says part shade. The arid zone trees publication you reference in a...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a redbud in Boerne TX
August 29, 2012 - Hi there, My question is when is it safe to transplant a native tree? I have a redbud tree come up in m flower bed I want to try to transplant it instead of cutting it out. It is very young - maybe 4-...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting seedlings washed out of area by rain
February 17, 2007 - I sowed a rather large area in my wild back yard in wildflowers. There is no grass. A few weeks later after we had been watering them because of no rain (in Sept), we got way too much rain and many o...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Colorado blue spruce in Indiana
August 16, 2005 - I live in Indiana. I have a Colorado blue spruce that I would like to transplant to a different part of my yard. What is the best time of year to transplant it? It is only about two foot tall.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center