En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Problems with Texas wild olive tree in Tucson

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
1 rating

Monday - November 15, 2010

From: Tucson, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Transplants, Trees
Title: Problems with Texas wild olive tree in Tucson
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Planted a Texas Olive tree in Tucson, Az. Some of the leaves are kind of yellow. It gets part sun and part shade and is growing. Is this due to too much water, not enough water or does it need something like Miracle grow ?

ANSWER:

Cordia boissieri (Mexican olive), which also has the common name of Texas Wild Olive is endemic to Texas, which means it is not native to Arizona, and may be in conditions in which it cannot do well. When you follow the plant link above to our web page on this plant, you will notice this instruction in the Propagation Instructions:

"Maintenance: Requires much water to get it established but once established it is drought-tolerant."

From this USDA Plant Profile, you will see that Mexican Olive grows naturally no closer to Arizona than the extreme southern tip of Texas. You did not say how long ago this tree was planted, but transplant shock is quite common in recently planted trees, particularly if they have been planted in what is, for them, an alien environment. If it was planted pretty recently, then we would definitely recommend more water, allowed to drip in very slowly from a hose. The plant also needs good drainage; if its roots are in clay with no compost or other amendments to improve the drainage, the roots may drown in the water it is given.

Pima County, against the southern border with Mexico, is in USDA Hardiness Zones 8b to 9a, while the South Texas area where the Mexican Olive grows natively is Zones 9a to 9b, a little warmer, but probably not enough to make that much difference. It is more likely that lack of water when the tree was being established and possbly poor drainage and/or the wrong soil is causing the difficulty. And, if you planted it in the heat of an Arizona summer, or even fall, transplant shock is almost inevitable.

On the subject of fertilizing, don't. Any plant under stress, and yours obviously is, should not be fertilized. The fertilizer will try to push a plant to grow more profuse leaves, when what that plant is doing is struggling to survive.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Cordia boissieri


Cordia boissieri


Cordia boissieri


Cordia boissieri

 

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Erosion control on partially shaded slope
November 27, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Atlanta, GA. My house is on a hill, and I am beginning to have erosion at my backyard porch (concrete slab, on the corners especially). The soil is mainly red clay, a...
view the full question and answer

Allelopathc qualities in sunflowers
June 19, 2007 - I have a sunflower patch in the corner of my backyard (Maximilians, common sunflower, and silverleaf sunflower)and would like to use the spent stalks (sans the seedheads) as mulch in the fall. Howeve...
view the full question and answer

Sunny and shady lawns from Austin
April 28, 2012 - My front yard has a large bed surrounded by a mix of St. Augustine and Bermuda grass. Last summers heat killed off about 90% of the St. Augustine, which we would like to replace anyway to conserve re...
view the full question and answer

Will wood shavings in the soil require nitrogen from Charleston MO
May 04, 2011 - I cut down a big maple tree and a lot of the wood shavings was left in the soil. I planted a flower bed over the area this spring. I later read that the wood chips in the soil would use a lot of nitro...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover to withstand dog traffic in Michigan
November 02, 2010 - I need a soft ground cover that will grow in sand, and be able to take four big dogs that love to run in the yard. Grass just doesn't make it. Someone suggested that groundcover might work. Thanks...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center