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?


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


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?


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





From the Image Gallery

Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

More Watering Questions

Repotting of lemon cypress for drainage
October 26, 2008 - Hi, I bought a lemon cypress tree in a nice tin, It is in Plastic and the bottom has about 1.5" of water with no drainage in the plastic or tin. It will be kept inside. Does the plant need to be in...
view the full question and answer

Drought affecting native trees from The Woodlands
August 18, 2011 - I've been trying to grow native trees in my yard for the past 3 years and I'm starting to question whether the amount of time required to spend watering them during the long hot season in Texas is r...
view the full question and answer

Water use rate calculations from Toronto ON
December 16, 2012 - Can the high medium and low water use categories be quantified into a rate, say volume of water required by square foot of planted area? How are the water use categories established?
view the full question and answer

Problems with Texas Mountain Laurel in Dallas
May 04, 2010 - I have a Texas Mountain Laurel that is about 3 years old. When I bought it 2 summers ago, it was about a foot high. Now it is over 6 feet. It seems to have grown so fast that the branches can't ke...
view the full question and answer

Problems with water oaks from Laurel MS
October 05, 2013 - The leaves on my mature water oak trees have been falling since the leaves matured. My area has had an abundance of rain this year, 11 inches above normal. All the trees in my area are doing the same....
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center