Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Tuesday - June 07, 2011

From: Chandler, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Watering, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Mountain Laurel having trouble in AZ
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

A Sophora secundflora (Texas mountain laurel) was planted to an Arizona north faced front yard last year in August under full sun. Starting early this year, I noticed its leaves turn to light green and the flowers become pale purple/white. I water it 30 mins a day. What could be its problem? Please help this beautiful tree, thanks!

ANSWER:

Mr Smarty Plants thinks its likely that you are taking way too much care of your Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel).  Ours (in Austin) simply lives in the front yard, we enjoy its blooms and fragrance but give it no care at all. Once the plant is established, you do not not need to water, unless in extreme drought.  You need to stop watering it everyday. If you must, give it a long slow soaking once a month.  The mountain laurels that are seen in the Texas hill country are also understory plants, so they will thrive with some shade.  Arizona is a bit farther into the desert southwest than it's preferred native conditions, but not that far.  This link is to the USDA database showing where it thrives.  If you click on the states, it will show county level detail.

Reviewing the NPIN profile for the Texas mountain laurel, it emphasizes again that it's water use is "Low to Medium" and that it prefers "Dry, rocky, well-drained, preferably calcareous soils". The need for good drainage is emphasized.

Transplant shock is also a possble cause.  Here is a recent MSP question that also considers that issue.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Watering Questions

Should Texas live oaks be mulched under drought conditions?
July 19, 2011 - Should we mulch our live oaks in pastures for water retention?
view the full question and answer

Harvesting washer rinse cycle water from Austin
April 24, 2012 - Mr. Smarty Plants, My question is different. I am "harvesting" 8-9 gallons from the rinse cycle in my top loading washer. I was told not to use this water on vegetables, just shrubs and flowers...
view the full question and answer

Care of Live Oaks
July 11, 2012 - We have Two Young Live Oaks in the front of Our home. We had them treated for insects, ect. Now what can we do to make them Full Green and Happy Happy Happy again.Thank You
view the full question and answer

Recycling bath water from Austin
July 03, 2012 - Is using bath water going to hurt my plants or grass? If I use water from the bath on vegetables and fruits will the soap be absorbed by the fruit and/or vegetables thereby transferring to us when we ...
view the full question and answer

Mexican Plum with wilted leaves in Austin, TX.
June 06, 2012 - I am new to Texas & have a yard with mature mexican plum trees. They are quite beautiful however as summer sets in I notice that the leaves appear "wilted". Is this normal or should I be providing...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.