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
7 ratings

Saturday - June 19, 2010

From: Kempner , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pruning, Transplants, Trees
Title: Ash tree dying back to lower sprouts in Kempner TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My 2 year old ash tree leaves dropped, appears dead, branches dying. New growth near base of tree. Do I cut upper trunk or remove entire tree? My other ash is doing well.

ANSWER:

There are 9 members of the Fraxinus genus (Ash) native to Texas; we are guessing that you have Fraxinus texensis (Texas ash). This USDA Plant Profile shows it growing in and near Lampasas County.

When you say 2 year old trees, did you mean that it had been planted from a seed 2 years ago, or you purchased a small tree and it has been in your garden 2 years? It sounds to us like transplant shock, either planted in hot weather without adequate watering, or root damage. The sprouts coming up from the base of the tree are growing off the roots of the tree, which means the tree itself is still alive. Since this tree often grows as a multi-trunk tree, we believe you could encourage those sprouts to grow up and be one tree. The "central leader" or the upright trunk that was the original tree may still be alive. Try scratching the bark with your thumbnail, just a little sliver, and see if there is a thin green layer beneath. If there is, we would suggest pruning and trimming back the branches that appear to be dead, but ensure that there are enough green leaves left somewhere, either on the upper branches or the sprouts, to provide adequate nourishment for the tree. Do not fertilize. 

Because the extreme heat of the Texas Summer is now upon it, we don't recommend doing any pruning or trimming except to prevent a dead branch from actually breaking off. Be sure the tree is adequately watered, and wait to see if it will develop multi-trunks, or if the whole tree is just going to die. Ordinarily, we recommend trimming about 1/3 of the upper portion of a tree or shrub in transplant shock, but we are having trouble visualizing how much of an upper part your tree has. If the other ash tree is doing well, are there differences in the locations, water availability and sunlight between the two trees? That might give you a clue to the problem. We would also suggest you mulch the roots of both trees with a good quality shredded bark mulch, to protect the roots from heat, hold water in the soil and, as it decomposes, adding organic matter to the soil to assist in drainage.

From Our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Fraxinus texensis

Fraxinus texensis

Fraxinus texensis

Fraxinus texensis

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Pruning native Senna lindheimeriana
September 28, 2008 - I asked a question about pruning a Texas Senna tree. The Texas Senna I have is either a S. wislizenii or a S.lindheimeriana. It is a beautiful tree that I purchased at a Texas Native Plant nursery. ...
view the full question and answer

Dead portions on oak tree in Hutchinson KS
August 22, 2011 - I have an oak tree on the property I just moved into. One tree is healthy, the other has a dead side or almost dead. It did have some new green leaves on the dead branches but not many. What should...
view the full question and answer

Winter trimming of Greggs mistflower
November 11, 2007 - Do I cut my gregg's mist back to the ground for the winter or just leave it alone?
view the full question and answer

Failure of Bald Cypress to fully leaf out
April 14, 2008 - My family just moved to a house in Burnet County, about 7 miles south of Bertram, close to the Balcones Canyonlands NWR, with very rocky limestone soil. We bought several trees last fall, including a ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
June 05, 2009 - Thank you for your answer regarding when my tulip tree will flower. I also understand it can/will grow to over 100 feet so should we be pruning it a certain way to keep it contained? thank you
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center