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?


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
2 ratings

Monday - August 08, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Watering, Trees
Title: Defining drip line on trees from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


When you say that trees should be watered at the "drip line," do you mean that literally? I assume that the drip line means at the outside edge of the leaves or branches. Does that mean that watering closer to the trunk won't help the tree, even if the grass or plants underneath do benefit?


Sorry, we get so used to using certain catch words, we forget that not everyone speaks the same language. Watering anywhere around a tree during the kind of weather we are having is beneficial. When a tree is small and new, we recommend sticking the hose in the soil around the base and letting it drip slowly until water comes to the surface, at least twice a week. With a mature tree, not only would it be difficult to get that hose in there with all the roots, but there are roots extending far beyond that which need the moisture, too. Using the phrase "drip line" is just a quickie indicator, and not totally accurate. Remember that the roots of a large tree will often extend out a distance at least comparable to the height of the tree, which is usually much farther out than where the edge of the shade from the tree, or drip line, is established. Yes, run the sprinkler under the tree and not under the tree but still over the roots. The only caution we would make is to avoid getting the bark of the tree too wet, as this can invite fungi and diseases.


More Watering Questions

Problems with tomatoes in tubs in Campbellton, TX
May 30, 2009 - I have my tomatoes planted in big black plastic tubs, they are starting to wilt and dry up. I have put Sevin dust on them for bugs. I haven't been over watering. Could you please tell me why they are...
view the full question and answer

Shy blooming non-native Crape Myrtle, in Littlestown Pennsylvania
July 25, 2011 - My Crape myrtle has been planted about three years, and reached a height of about 4'. It blooms late July and for the past two years, has only had one or two blooms on it. I have a lot of buds whic...
view the full question and answer

Plants for science fair project using greywater
November 17, 2013 - What kind of plants should we use for our science fair project.We are doing our project on how greywater affects plant growth. We saw your answer on how it affects it but we don't know what type of ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Silverado Sage in Pearland, TX.
July 28, 2012 - Hi, We have three Silverado Sage bushes we planted last year. They did great during the drought. However, this winter they had a severed leaf drop of mostly just the centers of them. These cente...
view the full question and answer

Possumhaw losing leaves in Liberty Hill, TX.
July 11, 2011 - I have two female possumhaw trees and one of them is losing its leaves. I planted both of them in February and they were doing very well, getting green and full. What's happening?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center