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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.

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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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Thursday - September 23, 2010

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Transplants
Title: Problems with a Hackberry tree in San Antonio.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Our old hackberry tree fell over last year. Now we have dozens of new ones popping up in the same area. We want to transplant a few to another area of the yard, but they aren't surviving. It appears the plants aren't seedlings, but are attached to the old roots. Q: How can we transplant these little trees successfully, please?

ANSWER:

The obvious first question for me is: "Why did the hackberry fall over?" If the answer is "because it was dead," My second question would be: " How did it die?" What Mr. Smarty Plants is getting at is that he needs to have the "rest of the story".

SInce you are in Bexar County, I'm guessing that your tree is Celtis laevigata (Sugar hackberry). What you are dealing with are suckers growing from the main roots of the fallen tree. If you are trying to transplant these suckers and they are not surviving, the young plants probably don't have enough of a root system to become established in the soil at the new site.  Also, trying to do this in the summer in Central Texas is an exercise in futility. This excerpt from the the NPIN page for Celtis laevigata lets us know it can be done; we just need a better strategy.

Propagation :  Can be rooted from juvenile wood and from root sprouts or suckers.  

The two links I'm going to give you have a very good description of the process, but with different species of plants; the first is red twig-dogwood , and the other is rough leaf dog wood. Even though the plants are different, the underlying biology is the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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