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?

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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - October 29, 2011

From: Princeton, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Non-native Boulevard Cypress Pom Pom trees in Princeton NJ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I just had some landscaping done near my front door and front yard. I have two Boulevard Cypress B&B (4-5') Pom Pom. The pom poms are turning brown. What should I have been doing? I am watering them as instructed.

ANSWER:

From Northern Christmas Trees and Nursery, here is a description and picture of Chamaecyparis pisifera, trimmed into a "pom pom" topiary. Also, read this discussion from Ohio State University of the plant, its liabilities and problems, and the fact that it is native to Japan.

So, the first thing that we think you did wrong was plant a tree not native to North America. Mr. Smarty Plants never recommends plants not native either to North America nor to the area in which the plant grows naturally. Plants that have been accustomed by thousands of years to one climate and soil type will have great dificulty adjusting to a different one.

The second problem that we see is that this sounds like transplant shock. Any time a plant is removed from someplace, like a nursery, where it perhaps has been sitting all summer in a plastic pot, and suddenly put down in the earth, there is a chance of transplant shock. You said you had "just" had some landcaping done; how recent was that? In Texas, we frown on trying to transplant any woody plant, like trees and shrubs, in the heat of summer. However, if you waited until November to January, which is when we recommend planting in the Southwest, your ground would probably be frozen. But, we found this article from the State of New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Fall: A Great Time for Planting. 

Even if the plants were put in the ground at the perfect time, they still may have been rootbound from being in the pot too long, and needed some clipping to stop those roots from going around and around in the pot and turn out into the dirt. Maybe someone got over-zealous and put a lot of fertilizer in the hole, thinking to benefit the tree. We don't recommend fertilizing when a plant is newly in the ground, you should never fertilize a stressed tree, and a newly transplanted tree is definitely under stress.

Bottom line: we really don't know what has caused the browning of your tree, but we suggest you have a visit with the nursery, describe the symptoms and see if there is a possibility of replacement.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Removal of invasive non-native Chinese wisteria
September 10, 2007 - I am going to be removing my ubiquitous chinese wisteria very soon (the method I'm going to use is undetermined). If I decide to use Round-up on the cut-stem (which may take more than one application...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Actaea simplex in Washington State
September 07, 2008 - I have a Actaea simplex 'Hillside Black Beauty' that I planted in mid August 2007 in a partial, almost full shade spot. This year it came back , but the foliage is brown with dark and light green a...
view the full question and answer

Questions about hollyhocks and yucca
May 25, 2016 - I have 2 questions. In Western N.Y. State the hollyhocks grow like weeds but add color with their large stalks. I've sent for seeds and the best I can do in N.W.Travis county is 9 inch plants that die...
view the full question and answer

Suggestions for vegetables to grow in North Texas
October 12, 2015 - Hi, I want some suggestions on vegetable plants that withstands North Texas winter icy weather? and when to plant them? Thanks, Meena.
view the full question and answer

Secretions of fluid from crepe myrtles
June 09, 2008 - On my crepe myrtle tree I have dozens of 1/2-inch-long narrow bugs that seem to secrete tiny drops of fluid. They appear on the branches of the tree. Are these harmful to the tree? Do I need to do ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center