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 Watering Questions

Why are the leaves of my century plants yellowing?
June 22, 2009 - I am taking care of the Agaves (century plants) for my condo community here in Austin. They are planted in 18" or 20" pots. A couple of the plants have leaves that are yellowing around the bottom....
view the full question and answer

Patio plants suffering from heat in Austin
August 22, 2010 - My patio plants are burning up from the intense sun of Austin's August. Last year it even burned the leaves. Besides moving 40 plants to a shadier spot do you have suggestions on how to protect the...
view the full question and answer

Possible freeze damage in Wax Myrtle from last winter in Bastrop, TX
July 25, 2011 - Our Wax Myrtle is about 7 yrs old and in good shape until this past winter when we had several very hard freezes. Now several of the large branches are dead and more are dying each month. We have not ...
view the full question and answer

Leaf browning on blackfoot daisy in Arizona
August 26, 2008 - Blackfoot daisy plant was doing great; then, in one day, it turned brown like it had no water. Have a watering system in place which waters once a day for one hour 1/2 gallon a hour.
view the full question and answer

Drought stressed wooly butterflybush in Atlanta, TX
September 24, 2011 - My butterfly bush is dead looking from the drought. Do you think there is a chance it just went dormant and will return next year. I am still putting water on it. I believe it is a white wooly butterf...
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