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
2 ratings

Monday - July 25, 2011

From: Bastrop, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Transplants, Watering
Title: Possible freeze damage in Wax Myrtle from last winter in Bastrop, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

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 had to fertilize or do anything but water every week. What might be the cause(s) and what should we do to save our tree? It is about 10 - 12 feet tall. Thanks so much!

ANSWER:

You need to inspect the plant to see if there is insect or fungal damage. You might enlist the aid of the folks at the Bastrop County office of Texas AgriLife Extension in this endeavor.

Your Wax Myrtle Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) may be telling you that it didn’t like that cold winter. Depending on its location and the extent of exposure, the freezes may have damaged the root system, and the plant is responding to an imbalance between the root systems and the shoot system. This is similar to what happens in transplant shock where the roots are damaged and the balance is disturbed when the plant is transplanted. So one scenario is to treat this as a case of transplant shock. I’m providing links to websites dealing with transplant shock that provide various remedies for the problem. You need to pick the suggestions that most closely fit your situation.

There are three activities that are recommended in the articles:

Pruning; remove the dead branches, and perhaps some of the live ones to reduce the water demand on the root system. Don’t take off so many leaves that  photosynthesis is impaired.

Watering; keep the soil evenly moist, but avoid overwatering. Wax myrtle prefers moist soils.

Mulching; apply a layer of mulch under the plant to prevent water loss from the soil and to keep the roots from getting too hot.

Although you may be tempted to fertilize the plant, don’t do it. Stressed plants do not need fertilizer.

Websites
   Clemson University

   northscaping.com

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Leaf cutter ants in potted Mexican lime tree
May 21, 2008 - Hi, I'd like to add a question to the recent post about leaf-cutter ants. I have a potted mexican lime tree that has been inhabited by an ant colony for several months. They are chewing holes in th...
view the full question and answer

Advisability of trimming oak trees in August
July 13, 2007 - In general,what is your opinion on pruning oak trees in August? If it is positive, should the extreme moisture of this year affect the timing?
view the full question and answer

Small tan balls on oak from Pipe Creek TX
May 21, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, our spanish oak is growing tan colored lumpy balls about the size and weight of a marshmallow..sometimes just one at the end of a short stem and sometimes 2-3 clumped together....
view the full question and answer

Knots on redbuds in Stillwell, OK
April 07, 2011 - My redbud has knots all over the limbs. Its been this way for a few years now. I can not find a way to take care of this problem. I don't even know what is causing this. Can you help me?
view the full question and answer

Iris Changing Color?
April 03, 2015 - I have some iris planted under a very tall tree and they bloom nicely every February. The original bulbs were given to me when I moved here to Arizona 30 years ago. They have always bloomed white. I h...
view the full question and answer

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