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?

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

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
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 Trees Questions

Plant barrier along fence in South Central Texas
March 10, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: I want to put in an attractive, diverse but tough plant barrier to help stop my dogs from running the fence with neighboring dogs. The 5-foot, open-wire fence is far from the...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Tree for Austin, TX
February 10, 2013 - Can you recommend a tall privacy plant similar to the Thuya Green Giant that is suitable to the Austin environment?
view the full question and answer

Looking for plants for phytoremediation in Columbus, TX
May 27, 2015 - Hello! I am looking for native Texan phytodegrading/rhizodegrading plants (basically I want phytoremediating plants that could be left in place and not have to be removed/disposed of after they had ta...
view the full question and answer

Tree roots in sewer from Paragould AR
September 30, 2012 - I have beautiful pecan trees, an apple in the back yard, a pine on the west side of the house and pecan trees in the front yard. Two trees are interrupting my sewer systems (at least one in the back y...
view the full question and answer

Lantana trees in Wyoming MI
August 16, 2010 - We love lantana with its multicolored flowers. This weekend we visited Michigan State University and saw "lantana trees".They were amazing!! Have these trees been grown from the annual plant we have...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center