En Español

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

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

Friday - July 15, 2011

From: Abilene , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Watering, Trees
Title: Premature browning of bald cypress needles in summer
Answered by: Guy Thompson


I have several 10m high taxodium distichum trees in the lawn, with drip irrigation twice a week, and same soil content, and on just one of them, several leaves have started turning brown, it seems to be browning from the center of the tree outward(distally). I dont see evidence of insect damage, but I also am not entirely certain what to look for. Any suggestions??


Taxodium distichum (Bald cypress) is a tree that benefits from deep watering.  If it does not get ample water in hot summers it will shut down many of its leaves, starting from the trunk-end of branches.  Mr. Smarty Plants has seen this occur on several occasions, sometimes on one tree but not on the adjacent one.  Green leaves remain on the branch tips if the drought is not too severe, and the tree will recover completely in the following spring.  However, this is not a healthy situation for the tree.  It seems that your drip irrigation is not allowing water to penetrate deeply enough in the soil to satisfy the tree's needs.  It is recommended that deep watering be employed to supplement rainfall in periods of extended drought.  I believe that if you water the area under all the trees out to the drip line for 30 min. or so every two weeks the trees will survive without permanent damage.


From the Image Gallery

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

More Trees Questions

Native trees for Medford MA
April 07, 2011 - Two quick questions. 1) what trees would grow happily along the banks of the Mystic River in Medford, MA? 2) Would it be o.k. to plant weeping willows? Are they indigenous to the area? I'm not a pur...
view the full question and answer

Grafting Shumard Oak to Decrease Acorn Bearing Age in New Orleans
September 23, 2010 - Can a Shumard Oak that is bearing acorns (30 yrs. old)be grafted to a seedling in order to decrease the bearing of the tree in a similar manner as grafting pecan trees? Can it be propagated by any me...
view the full question and answer

Why do my Possumhaw Holly berries fall of in the summer in Euless, TX?
June 28, 2011 - My possumhaw holly has LOTS of green berries in the spring but they fall off in summer, so that I have only a handful of red berries in the winter. What is going wrong?
view the full question and answer

Need source for seeds or plants of Pinus remota in Johnson City, TX..
October 18, 2011 - I cannot seem to find a source for Pinus remota or papershell pinyon pine. Who Grows this? I understand it is rare and would love to try it here in Johnson City. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Identity of flowering yellow trees in Austin
March 21, 2012 - There are numerous flowering yellow trees in my Austin neighborhood. Are they mesquite or goldenball lead trees? They are quite fragrant, like a new bar of soap.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center