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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.

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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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Thursday - May 05, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Freeze-damaged Texas Mountain Laurel in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have a Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) that is several years old. During this past winter, one of the freezes we had split one of the largest trunk right below the soil line. That trunk is still living and actually bloomed this spring, but I have to prop up the trunk with stakes. Is it possible for this trunk to heal and support itself eventually and is there anything I can do to help it out? If we have to take out this trunk we might as well take out the whole tree and start over since the broken trunk is approximately 50% of the tree. Any other resources you could point us to would be helpful. Thanks.

ANSWER:

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)  is a very popular shrub/tree here in Austin, and it would be a shame to have to remove one that is several years old. However, that is a possibility.

The tree is usually multi-trunked, so Mr. Smarty Plants is wondering how many trunks there are? The other trunks could perhaps take up the slack if you have to remove the damaged trunk.

Since the tree is still living, I think I would give it this growing season to see if the break will heal. Staking the tree to help relieve the pressure on the break is a reasonable approach to encourage healing.

I’m enclosing a link to a previously answered question which also has links to helpful information about growing Mountain Laurel.


Sophora secundiflora

 

 

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