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
2 ratings

Tuesday - July 13, 2010

From: Birmingham, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Planting, Transplants, Watering
Title: Transplant shock in American beautyberry in Birmingham AL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We created a new garden area in our yard that gets full sun in the afternoon. I had a Beautyberry Bush that had seriously outgrown the area where we originally planted it (also full sun), so I transplanted it in the new garden to give it more room - not thinking that the temperatures may be too hot to move it now. After 3-4 days it is still wilted. I water it regularly and really don't want to lose it. What do you recommend?

ANSWER:

You have just joined the Leap Before You Look Club, which has a very large membership.

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) needs part shade, which we consider to be 2 to 6 hours of sun a day. This USDA Plant Profile shows it growing in scattered locations in Alabama, which may be a function of the soil or soil moisture. The page on this plant in our Native Plant Database has this comment:

"Native Habitat: Found in woods, moist thickets, wet slopes, low rich bottomlands, and at the edges of swamps in the Piney Woods, Post Oak Woods, Blackland woodlands, and coastal woodlands. Moist woods; coastal plains; swamp edges, bottomlands" 

From the same webpage, here are growing conditions for the American beautyberry:

"American beautyberry is a wonderful, large understory shrub with a naturally loose and graceful arching form. In the fall and early winter, the branches are laden with magenta purple (sometimes white)berry clusters that look spectacular as the leaves drop in autumn. It is useful as a screen in swampy or wooded locations or under shade trees in a garden setting. It can be cut to 12" above the base each winter to encourage more compact growth, flowers and fruit. It can also be left to mature naturally into a tall woody shrub . The shrub may temporarily defoliate and lose developing fruit during periods of prolonged summer drought."

Note that the treatment for an overgrown bush is trimming during the winter to encourage more compact growth. What is NOT recommended, never, ever, is transplanting a woody plant, a large woody plant, anywhere in the middle of the summer. There is not much we can recommend, short of a Time Machine that will take you back before you did that, so you could not do it. The plant is in severe transplant shock, and being in full sun instead of the part shade it needs makes it that much worse. The best thing we can suggest (besides the Time Machine) is to water it gently, making sure the drainage is good so water is not standing on the roots, and don't fertilize. You should never fertilize a stressed plant, which this one obviously is, because the fertilizer will be trying to encourage the roots to grow, when the roots are just trying to stay alive.

If it manages to live until cool weather, you can scrape off a thin layer of bark with your thumbnail to see if there a thin layer of green beneath it, which means it is still alive. Then, trim it down in the Winter, as described above, and move it, if you can, to a shadier location. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

 

 

 

More Watering Questions

Is installing irrigation with Habiturf a good idea in Round Rock Texas?
December 05, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I am in the process of planning a new lawn in my front yard. We have decided to plant the Habiturf seed mix (thank you, by the way). Originally, we planned on installing a spri...
view the full question and answer

Texas Pistachio trees dropping leaves in Austin
June 09, 2010 - I have several Texas Pistachio that are about 13 years old. Despite good rainfall in Travis county this year, they seem to be losing most of their new leaf growth now in early June. Leaves are simpl...
view the full question and answer

Dry browning leaves on Monterrey Oak from San Antonio
August 08, 2013 - I have a Monterey Oak that was planted four years ago and was doing great until the last two weeks. It has turned brown and the ends of the branches are very dry and brittle. The root flare was cov...
view the full question and answer

Why is my Weeping Fig crying leaves?
July 27, 2009 - I have a weeping fig that I bought Memorial day in Birmingham, Al. It has 8 or 9 trunks growing altogether. It sits on a porch with eastern exposure, only about 2 hours of sun. It has been losing l...
view the full question and answer

Hollies not retaining leaves in Tulsa
August 10, 2008 - I have Little Red Hollies that have lost their leaves, some areas being bald. They are also not full - you can see through them. These were planted in this condition Spring of '08 and have been wat...
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