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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - May 28, 2010

From: Texas City, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Transplants, Watering
Title: Why is my recently planted Esperanza doing poorly in Texas City, TX?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have an Esperanza I planted about 2 months ago. It has been doing well, except today all but one stem of the plant is wilting and the leaves are rolling. I see no bugs on the plant. Any idea what might be causing this?

ANSWER:

I think we have two things going on here. The first is that your Esperanza is experiencing transplant shock. When a plant comes out of a pot and is put into soil, there is a period of adjustment while the root system gets established in order to supply the stems and leaves. The roots are not able to supply enough water to the leaves so they wilt and fall off. In some cases, the plant has become root-bound in the pot, and this makes the adjustment period harder. Two common mistakes that are made with new plants are over watering and over-fertilzation. The plant is stressed because of the transplanting, and stressed plants don't need fertilizer.
Removing 1/4 to 1/3  of the damaged upper part of the plant can can help alleviate the situation by reducing the water demand on the roots. Leave as many healthy leave leaves as you can so photosynthesis can continue and feed the roots. Once the balance between roots and shoots has been restored, the plant is on the road to recovery.

The other thing has to do with location. Esperanza Tecoma stans (yellow trumpetbush) is a desert plant with a large range extending from south Texas westward to Arizona. If you check the USDA County Distribution map for Tecoma sans, you will see that it does not occur naturally along the Gulf Coast. It grows in full sun or partial shade with dry conditions, and prefers well drained, rocky, limestone, sand and loam soils. Is that the situation where your plant is growing?

You maybe able to coax Esperanza to grow in Texas City by addressing soil pH and drainage issues. I suggest that you contact the folks at the the Galveston County Office of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

 

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