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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - June 03, 2011

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Transplants, Trees
Title: Transplant shock in Mountain Laurel in San Antonio, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


I planted a 2 ft. tall Texas mountain laurel a month ago. Some of the leaves have turned very yellow and some of them are falling off. The plant doesn't look real healthy in general. I did add some crushed granite, just a little turkey and molasses compost and a few watersorb crystals to the soil before planting. Maybe I shouldn't have added anything. I water deeply about twice a week. Any idea why this plant has yellowing leaves? The leaves of my Carolina jessamine are also turning yellow and some shoots have died. One plant completely died and I replaced it. (I have 3) They were planted in late February (3 months ago). Also an established Cenizo has yellowing leaves as well. I have also had trouble with these plants getting a small black bug on the leaves which in turn kill the branches. I have many any other plants that are doing well so I don't think its a soil problem. Thanks for your help.


Mr. Smarty Plants thinks that transplant shock and overwatering are probably at the root of your problems. I’m going to provide  you with several links that have information starting with planting techniques, transplant shock  (also see), and ideas about proper watering.

Mountain Laurel Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) is a drought tolerant evergreen which prefers rocky limestone soil that is well drained. Twice a week waterings probably keep the roots too wet, and the addition of watersorb only exacerbates the problem. The Cenizo Leucophyllum candidum (Brewster county barometerbush) also prefers dry conditions. The Carolina Jessamine Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine) prefers moist conditions, but could be experiencing transplant shock. One of the things that people tend to do with new plants is to overwater them.

There are a lot of diferent kinds of small black bugs, so that description isn't very helpful. Here is a link to a previous question regarding small black bugs that might prove useful. One of the culprits they mention is fungus gnats



More Transplants Questions

Blackening of top growth of yaupon in Sunrise Beach TX
June 09, 2010 - My question regards a Will Flemming yaupon which I am thinking may be within your scope of expertise. These were recently planted under windy conditions, then hit with a neighbors antiquated jet type ...
view the full question and answer

Browning leaves on recently planted chinkapin oak in Rockwall TX
June 09, 2010 - I just planted a chinkapin oak that is about 1 1\2 inches thick last week and now some of the leaves are turning brown. Does that mean its dying? Do you have any tips that I could use to protect it?
view the full question and answer

Amendments for faster-growing trees from Bulverde TX
July 04, 2010 - What faster growing trees will grow in black gumbo clay that is about 12 inches deep above caliche rock in full sun with a sprinkler system set on 1 inch/week? How many and how much amendments such...
view the full question and answer

Decline of non-native Star Jasmine in California
June 30, 2008 - We just had 2 trachelospermum jasminoides planted in a redwood planter box about a month ago. We can't figure out if we are watering too much or too little but some leaves are turning yellow and the...
view the full question and answer

Propagating yaupons (Ilex vomitoria)
November 30, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty, I enjoy your weekly tips printed in the Austin Statesman. We live in the Texas hill country where the soil is essentially rock. One of the nice benefits of our yard and the are...
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