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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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Tuesday - November 16, 2010

From: Surprise, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs
Title: Further question on sprouts from holly tree in Surprise AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Thank you Barbara Medford for your response to my question about the sprouting holly tree in Surprise AZ. I took for granted that the tree I was talking about was a holly tree. I looked at pictures of the trees you suggested they might be.. but they are not. I thought it was a holly because of the shape of the leaf.. it is a scalloped leaf with needles on the ends.. the leaf looks just like a miniature holly leaf. Maybe you can help me ID it better. Again thanks for your help. P.S. The tree does get good water at all times of year (sprinkler system)

ANSWER:

The pictures we provided you were NOT a true holly, as we said. We will provide you with some pictures of holly leaves if that would help, but there still is NO holly native to Arizona. If it is a plant not native to North America at all, we will have no information on it. 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.

To reiterate what was in our previous answer:

"We checked in our Native Plant Database for all the Ilex (holly) genus that grow natively in Arizona and found there are none. That may be the first clue; plants that produce sprouts coming up from their roots are often stressed by environmental conditions and just trying to put out some survivors to carry on when the main plant dies. Growing in conditions hostile, or at least non-native, to a plant can certainly produce stress in that plant.

Nativity aside, if the house is not being lived in year-round and watering is not being done in the hot weather, the plant is just trying to get some leaves out on those sprouts to help survival if the leaves on the shrub proper shrivel up and die. About the only treatment for the sprouts is to cut them off, and keep cutting them off, near their base. You can't use a poison on the sprouts because they share the roots of the bush for nutrients and water. We are afraid that the choice of that plant for those particular circumstances probably has doomed it. We realize the plant was probably purchased locally, on the assumption that if it was sold there, it would thrive there. Unfortunately, too often this is not the case."

The fact remains, whether it is a holly or some other plant, perhaps non-native not only to Arizona but to North America, that the sprouts can only be eradicated by cutting them off with heavy duty pruners, as near to the root from which they spring as possible.

Our point on the watering and the soils had to do with the way trees should be watered, especially when they are new. Newly planted trees should receive deep watering by inserting a hose down into the soil and letting it drip, perhaps 2 times a week until the tree is well-established. In fact, depending on sprinkler systems is counter-productive; the water hitting the trunks and leaves of the trees could very well promote fungi, which would only make the problem worse.

Pictures of Ilex coriacea (Large gallberry) from Google.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Ilex ambigua


Ilex decidua


Ilex myrtifolia


Ilex opaca


Ilex verticillata

 

 

 

 

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