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

Monday - September 27, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: What to do with a sickly American elm in Austin, Texas
Answered by: Marilyn Kircus

QUESTION:

I have an American elm that is about 6 feet tall in my yard. It is has not grown quickly this year--as compared to another American Elm that I have in another spot that is about 3 feet tall and has more than doubled in size this year. Anyway it has spots on all the leaves, white spots and brown spots, maybe some black. I thought about picking the leaves off and throwing them away, but the tree would be bare. Should I do that? Should I spray is with something? If so, what?

ANSWER:

Ulmus americana (American elm) is native to the Austin area, but unfortunately, elms are notorious for being susceptible to various pests and diseases, including the deadly Dutch elm disease.

Since we are neither plant pathologists nor entomologists, we can't diagnose your tree's problem nor recommend treatment. However, County Extension offices do have information on plant diseases and bugs in their area, so we suggest you contact the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Office for Travis County. Since the elm is a valuable tree, you might also contact a certified arborist who can tell you what, if any, treatment is advisable, and recommend a procedure.

Plants are more likely to get diseases if some of their needs are not being met.

Check for:

Soil compaction.

Tree getting too much or not enough water - be sure to water deeply.

Could tree be in caliche?

Tree getting enough sun?

Can you see any differences in soil, compared to the soil the other tree is growing in?

Putting compost around the tree and spraying with compost tea helps some trees rid themselves of various diseases.

Keep trees mulched starting about one foot from the trunk and going out to the drip line.  This will help retain water and keep the roots cooler on hot days.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Ulmus americana


Ulmus americana


Ulmus americana


Ulmus americana

 

 

 

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Red-backed bugs on mountain laurel (Sophoro secundiflora)
May 12, 2010 - I found red-backed bugs (in fact two end-to-end like the east Texas love bugs) on my mountain laurel which has been losing leaves. Are these bugs the culprit?
view the full question and answer

Muhly grass slow to green up from Spring Hill FL
August 04, 2012 - Have lots of muhly grass planted 3 yrs ago. This yr about 1/3 are VERY slow. Still look like hay stacks. No pattern in the bed. You mentioned pesticides being too close?
view the full question and answer

Growth in oak tree in San Antonio
April 05, 2011 - We have a very large gorgeous oak tree in our backyard here in San Antonio, Texas. I noticed a thickness high up in the tree. Thinking it was a nest of some sort, I used binoculars and saw a parasiti...
view the full question and answer

Will mowing live oak seedlings contribute to Oak Wilt from Dripping Springs TX
June 14, 2011 - I live near Drippings Springs, TX. Will mowing live oak seedlings contribute to the spread of oak wilt?
view the full question and answer

Non-native blue potato bush in El Dorado Hills CA
June 12, 2010 - I have two blue potato bush topiary planted in my front porch in a very big planter. It's getting a full afternoon sun. I am wondering why they are losing their leaves??? Am I overwatering them??? Al...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center