En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


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
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

Wednesday - May 18, 2011

From: Kerrville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Transplants, Trees
Title: Huisache tree is not thriving in Kerr County, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


Our landscaper planted a Huisache tree in our back yard (Kerr County). It was planted about 3 years ago. It has grown considerably (about 15 feet tall)but it has never flowered and is always late in leafing out. It is May and the bottom half of the tree is entirely leafed out wth the top half slowly leafing out. There is some dead wood on the tree which I will have to remove but I am unsure when to prune it. I now understand from reading up about these trees that they prefer a warmer climate. Is this a lost cause? Do these trees require any special fertilization to flower?


Its often hard to determine why a tree won't grow, especially when the tree is several counties away. Mr. Smarty Plants is going to suggest that you  contact the folks at the Kerr County Office of Texas AgriLife Extension for some help closer to home.

Next, lets learn a little more about the tree. Huisache is a native shrub or tree that is well suited to the Hill Country as is confirmed by this article from the Native Plant Society of Texas. It is hardy in Zone 8, and is close to the northern end of its range in Kerr County. This past winter probably didn’t do your tree much good. Looking at its Native Plant Database page will let us see what the plant needs to grow.

Growing Conditions
Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type
Conditions Comments: Acacia farnesiana can form dense thickets from suckers. It has small, fragrant, orange-yellow flowers cluster in globose heads. But blooms so early that buds are often ruined by frost in the northern parts of its range. Acacia beetles can girdle limbs up to 3 in. across. Alkaline tolerant. This beautiful tree casts a soft filtered light but be careful when planting it, because it has sharp thorns on the trunk and branches.

Now we need to ask a few question; Is it getting full sun? What about water; too much or too little? Many people tend to overwater new trees. What kind of soil is it growing in? What does your landscaper say about the tree?

Since the tree was planted only three years ago, in could be experiencing transplant shock. These two links from Purdue University and the University of Kentucky can help you deal with this possibility. As for pruning removing dead wood can be done at any time.

Huisache has been flowering for centuries without being fertilized by humans. One should never fertilize a plant in stress. Too high a ratio of nitrogen to phosphorous  (ie more nitrogen in the soil than phosphorous) inhibits flowering in some plants. This could happen in your case if  the tree was getting too much lawn fertilizer which usually has high nitrogen levels.

Acacia farnesiana

Acacia farnesiana




More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Mosquito repellent plant?
September 01, 2008 - I would like to know if there is a plant that keeps mosquitoes away. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Leaves falling off recently transplanted mature Mountain Laurel
July 05, 2006 - I have recently purchased a Mountain Laurel for my backyard landscaping. It is a fully matured ML standing over 9 feet tall by 6 feet wide. Since it was planted (about 6 weeks ago) it has been losin...
view the full question and answer

Dry browning leaves on Monterrey Oak from San Antonio
August 08, 2013 - I have a Monterey Oak that was planted four years ago and was doing great until the last two weeks. It has turned brown and the ends of the branches are very dry and brittle. The root flare was cov...
view the full question and answer

Why is my Mountain Laurel in distress?
November 26, 2008 - We have planted our 2nd Texas Mountain Laurel in the same spot (after fresh berm built with sandy loam) and it is not looking good in less than 2 weeks. We have an identical berm on the other end of...
view the full question and answer

Failure to flourish of Trumpet Creeper in Leesburg VA
June 28, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: Late last year I planted a trumpet creeper vine to grow on my fence and attract hummingbirds. It gets full sun, is in average soil and gets adequate water. I put a few daylilli...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center