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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

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