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?

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
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

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 Trees Questions

Is it wise to cut suckers from live oak branches in April in Austin
April 07, 2010 - My live oak branches are filling with suckers and I would like to cut them now, April. Is that wise?
view the full question and answer

Why are my Junipers turning brown in San Antonio?
May 11, 2009 - My Texas mountain cedars (junipers, I know) are turning brown, limb by limb. What is the problem and how do I save what looks like a dying tree.
view the full question and answer

Protection of live oak trees from covering by concrete patio
February 02, 2008 - I am thinking about pouring a large cement patio around my live oak trees in my yard. I live in Rockport Tx. How far should the edge of the cement be, from the base of the tree? Will the patio kill th...
view the full question and answer

Is it safe to burn Cedar in a fireplace?
December 04, 2014 - Is it safe to burn Cedar in our fireplace? I'm trying to thin out the population of Ashe Junipers on my property in Spicewood Tx. to give the young Live Oaks a chance to compete for sunlight and w...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover under trees from Austin
November 03, 2012 - I need ground cover plants that can tolerate leaf litter and grow under oak tree shade.
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center