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Mr. Smarty Plants - Competition for sun between non-native loquat and Carolina laurel cherry in San Antonio

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Wednesday - October 27, 2010

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Competition for sun between non-native loquat and Carolina laurel cherry in San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have planted 2 Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry)along my north side fence. I just learned my neighbor has planted a Loquat tree on the other side of the north facing fence. He told me that his Loquat tree will overshadow my Carolina Laurelcherry and I should move it because the Loquat will take out all the sun my plants need. The sun will be gracing the east side of the yard that is shared by a scrub oak on the east side about 20 feet from the laurel cherry. His Loquat is about 6 feet tall now and my luarelcherry is about 10 feet tall. Should I move my carolina laurel cherry ?

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. So, you at least have the virtue of having a native plant, Prunus caroliniana (Cherry laurel), while your neighbor has planted Eriobotrya japonica, Loquat, which is native to southeastern China. Beyond that, if you are willing to accept advice from someone who had knowingly planted a tree that would overshadow one you already had, as well as (perhaps unknowingly) a non-native tree that might damage your native one, then you had probably better take out the Cherry laurel.

On the other hand, let's look at some facts. What direction a fence or building faces doesn't tell us a whole lot about what the sun exposure of plants there will be. Plus, we're a little unclear as to which side of your tree the neighbor's tree is growing. Before you do anything radical, observe the patterns of sun and shade in the area where your trees are.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist, deep, loamy, well-drained soils. Clay Loam, Medium Loam, Sandy Loam, Sandy
Conditions Comments: Likes the moist, well-drained soils of its natural range. Prolonged saturation can cause root rot, particularly in clay soils. Shallow, nutrient-poor, rocky soils can cause chlorosis and heat stress.

We consider "part shade" to be 2 to 6 hours of sun daily. A good part of the day, especially in the summer, the sun is going to be overhead enough to supply that much sun to your cherry laurel. Ordinarily, your plant will grow to be 15 to 36 ft. tall, and is useful as an understory tree. On the other hand, you would do well to notice the soil and drainage requirements of your tree. While this USDA Plant Profile shows the Cherry laurel growing in Travis County, if not Bexar County, it does seem to grow mostly in East Texas. However, we have had personal experience with the Cherry laurel, which grew on a property in North Central Texas, apparently volunteers from seeds probably planted by birds. It survived for many years, evergreen and attractive, in spite of being mostly in the shade of some large native oak trees.

We are not only rooting for your Prunus caroliniana (Cherry laurel), we're betting on it!

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Prunus caroliniana


Prunus caroliniana


Prunus caroliniana

 

 

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