Explore Plants

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
    
 

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:

 

 

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

It's so hot, even the Salvia greggii are sad, in Bulverde Texas
July 28, 2011 - I have several Salvia greggii in large terra cotta pots. The leaves have developed a yellowish tint and are thinning. What is the best process to get them back to full green foilage?
view the full question and answer

Native plants for flower beds in Aledo, TX
March 10, 2009 - I have 2 beds that together run the length of the house foundation (25' each), we have 2 spots I would like to plant a Yaupon (Pride of Houston) in each spot approximately 2' from the foundation;is ...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of growing plants in St. Peter Sandstone
April 02, 2008 - Can you grow plants or native plants in St. Peter Sandstone or amend it?
view the full question and answer

Watering needs for a new landscape
October 11, 2008 - How much and how frequently are you supposed to water after implementing a new landscape? For example, perennials and succulents that are drought tolerant.
view the full question and answer

Cenizo as a Foundation Plant in Austin
December 09, 2010 - We live next to the wildflower center. We would like to plant "Leucophyllum frutescens". We are hoping to use this as a foundation plant. Will it survive if planted in Dec. Please offer any tips ...
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.