Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

Friday - September 03, 2010

From: Liberty Hill, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Transplants, Watering, Trees
Title: Mexican Plum not doing well in Liberty Hill, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Two summers have passed since I planted my Mexican Plum. It's in full sun. It seems to have added height but not much width. It's virtually a 7 foot stick with 1 foot branches from top to bottom. It always looks a little wilty but in the recent heat some of the leaves on top have turned deep orange. When I do water it I use two five gallon buckets with small holes in the bottom. In these 100 degree days I water every two weeks. Is this tree supposed to look like a skinny shrub? Should I be trimming it up from the bottom?

ANSWER:

Mexican Plum Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum) is the common wild plum of the forest-prairie border from Missouri and eastern Kansas to Texas.

From the information available, I'm guessing transplant shock. The plant has not been able to establish a root system that is in balance with the top of the plant. Until it does, the plant won't prosper.

What to do? First of all, don't fertilize. This is often our first impulse, but a stressed plant doesn't need fertilizer. Instead, add some mulch, working it in around the base of the trunk, leaving a thin layer on the top in order to hold moisture and provide nutrients as it decomposes. It can also protect the roots from the excessive heat. The plant needs evenly moist, well drained soil for the roots to develop, so continue your watering regime, slacking off some when the fall rains come.

The appearance of the leaves is normal for Mexican plums at the end of their growing season.

The links below add additional information about transplant shock, as well as tips for preventing it, and correcting it. One of the tips you’ll find is to be patient

http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id80/id80.htm 

http://www.organicgardening.com/feature/0,7518,s1-4-76-1292,00.html

http://www.northscaping.com/InfoZone/TS-0011/TS-0011.shtml 

 

From the Image Gallery


Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

More Transplants Questions

Removing existing shrubs from Grapevine TX
September 24, 2012 - We just bought a house and we have some shrubs and hedges we want to remove. What is the best way to remove them so that they don't grow back? We have some holly hedges, a very large cedar or juniper...
view the full question and answer

Care of recently propagated Century Plant from Litchfield Park AZ
April 24, 2011 - To germinate some century plant seeds I put them in dirt and put the pot in a tray of water. Now, I have 3 sprouts about an inch tall and they came up about an inch apart. Question is, how should I w...
view the full question and answer

Newly planted Burford Holly doing poorly in Austin, TX.
July 25, 2011 - About a month ago I bought dwarf burford holly. Now they have slowly started getting brown leaves that eventually fall off. Some of the plants have white spots on the ends. I usually check my plant...
view the full question and answer

Height of tree to block sun on deck in Arlington MA
May 12, 2009 - I am trying to figure out how tall a tree I should buy in order to make sure to block out the sun on my deck
view the full question and answer

Growing Sophora gypsophila from seed
April 23, 2008 - Sophora gypsophila B.L. Turner & Powell Do you have any information on growing this small tree from seed? I have a few seeds and would like to try. What conditions break seed dormancy? I have grown ...
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.