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
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 Watering Questions

Blackfoot daisy declining in Austin
September 04, 2010 - My Blackfoot Daisies have grown large, bushy, have bloomed well over the past two summers. Now parts of the plants are drying up, dying. Will pruning out the dead parts help the plants to survive, or ...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Hamelia patens in Laredo
September 19, 2008 - I have a question regarding Hamelias patens(firebush)that I have been trying to grow for 2 years. I live in Laredo, Texas and this area should be an excellent climate for this plant. I planted 12 of t...
view the full question and answer

Leaf drop from live oaks in mid-summer
July 08, 2013 - We have a live oak that is starting to drop a considerable amount of leaves here in early July in Cypress Texas. Its a mature tree with a base diameter of 12-14" and 25-30' tall. We live in a subd...
view the full question and answer

Suggestions for flowerbed in Mesquite TX
June 17, 2011 - I live in Mesquite and am new to the area. I am trying to make the flowerbed in the front of my house look better. I've planted some yellow roses and red roses but would like some perennial that bloo...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of desert willow in Wimberley TX
August 10, 2010 - I have a desert willow. It is always, whether I water it or leave it alone, yellow/ brown leaves, dark spots on the leaves, losing leaves. now it looks sad and not very healthy. Can you please tell m...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center