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

Wednesday - June 09, 2010

From: Rockwall, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Diseases and Disorders, Transplants, Trees
Title: Browning leaves on recently planted chinkapin oak in Rockwall TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I just planted a chinkapin oak that is about 1 1\2 inches thick last week and now some of the leaves are turning brown. Does that mean its dying? Do you have any tips that I could use to protect it?

ANSWER:

We have a feeling it is suffering from transplant shock. We recommend planting woody plants, like trees and shrubs, in Fall or late Winter, while they are still semi-dormant, and less susceptible to damage. While there is not much you can do about it now, like unplant and do over, read this website from About.com: Landscaping on Transplanting Trees and Shrubs, to help you next time you want to plant a tree.

According to the USDA Plant Profile, Quercus muehlenbergii (chinkapin oak) does grow in and around Dallas County. It prefers alkaline soil which is rocky and sandy. There are both sandy and clay soils around your area of North Central Texas. If you have clay soil, you might be having problems with the kind of drainage the oak needs. Ordinarily, we would recommend that you stick a hose down in the dirt around the tree roots and let it slowly dribble in, to help compensate for it having been planted in hot weather. However, if your soil is clay, that could just make the problem worse. You might try it once, let the water run until it is on the surface. Then, if it takes more than half an hour to drain, it is not draining correctly. You will need to go to a practice of trying to work some compost into the area around the roots, and mulching the surface with shredded bark mulch to help protect the roots. That has the added benefit that, as the mulch decomposes, it will add to the composting effect in the soil, and help even more with the drainage. 

Finally, treating it as transplant shock, trim off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the upper part of the tree. You are pretty well out of the Oak Wilt danger area in Texas; usually, we would not recommend trimming an oak before about June 15, but the chinkapin oak is a white oak, and not very vulnerable to Oak Wilt. Trimming off that upper portion will help the roots get water up to the remaining leaves, in order for those leaves to continue manufacturing food for the whole plant. Make sure the soil stays moist but not soggy, and next time you plant a tree, wait until late Fall to do it.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Quercus muehlenbergii

Quercus muehlenbergii

Quercus muehlenbergii

Quercus muehlenbergii

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Native grass mix suitable for Houston
December 10, 2009 - Do you have a native grass mix that is appropriate to the Houston area- or will the one you have developed to this point work as well here as it does in Central Texas? If not, when will you begin to ...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in non-native crape myrtle from Wesley Chapel, FL
June 12, 2012 - I just bought a 12 ft. crape myrtle and planted it, giving it plenty of water I think. After 3 days the leaves are wilting and flowers are falling off.
view the full question and answer

Vine for pergola in Belton TX
February 06, 2013 - Hello, I would like to know what vine would be best to cover a rather large pergola. It will be in full sun in caliche soil. :( The area has access to a water hose and I would like to have something...
view the full question and answer

Conditions for growing Anacacho Orchid in Smithville TX
January 24, 2011 - What conditions (soil type, sun/shade, understory? etc.) to grow a healthy Anacacho Orchid tree? And what is the best size tree to plant?
view the full question and answer

Removing grass under oak trees in Pflugerville TX
August 30, 2009 - I would like to use the newspaper-and-mulch method to smother grass under the canopy of live oaks, a bur oak, and a lacey oak so that I can plant natives that will thrive there. However, I'm concern...
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