Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - July 31, 2010

From: Lehi, UT
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Non-Natives, Trees
Title: Japanese lilac trees in Lehi UT
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, We live in Utah and this past spring planted three Japanese Lilac Trees in the lawn next to the deck hoping they would one day provide some shade. They are planted in full sun and in sandy, rocky soil. Their leaves have been brown with crumpled edges for most of the summer. Of late a couple of new shoots have come out the top of the trees with a few blossoms. These trees are obviously not healthy. Help?

ANSWER:

The best we can figure out, what you have is the  Syringa reticulata, which this  USDA Plant Profile shows growing in Wyoming, New York State and other northeastern states, but not Utah. Since it is native to (guess what?) Japan, it falls out of our expertise, which is plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which they are being grown. We found numerous websites on this plant, to some of which we will give you links. The closest we can come to speculating on the cause of the leaves browning is that it is likely too arid in Utah for it, and also your soil is probably alkaline. This particular variety is supposedly tolerant of poor soils and alkalinity, but perhaps not that tolerant. Most of all, it needs very good drainage, to prevent water from rain or irrigation from standing on its roots. 

University of Connecticut Horticulture

Backyard Gardener

cirrusimage.com

Nebraska Forest Service

 

More Trees Questions

Native Plants for a water collection pit in Bronson, FL
August 22, 2013 - I live near Gainesville, FL in a low rural area with many cypress swamps around & bought this 5 acres 2 years ago. About 15 years ago a pit was dug on my 5 acres to give the rainwater somewhere to go...
view the full question and answer

PVC pipes for irrigation in ground in Austin
August 19, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants,What are your thoughts on installing PVC pipes into the ground around trees and shrubby trees? A classmate's grandmother had a pipe pushed or pounded into the ground near her speci...
view the full question and answer

Mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) refuses to bloom
March 07, 2008 - We have a Texas Mountain Laurel that gets full sunlight, but does not bloom. It is 4-5 ft tall & 3-4 ft wide & healthy. Is there anything we can do to make it bloom next year?
view the full question and answer

Shrubs and trees to protect beehives in Godley TX
April 06, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Is there a (relatively) fast growing native small tree or large shrub (NOT cedar) that tolerates Johnson County clay, full sun, sometimes damp and sometimes dry soil with no...
view the full question and answer

Concerns about swings on trees in Arboretum from San Marcos
June 01, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We very much enjoyed our visit to the new Arboretum this morning! It is already lovely with native species but will really be something with the additions the Wildflower Cent...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.