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
1 rating

Wednesday - November 09, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Transplants, Watering, Trees
Title: Transplant shock in desert willow in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We planted a desert willow 5 days ago. It came in a 15-gallon pot but the tree is quite large (~10 ft) with a wide spread. We watered thoroughly during planting but have not watered since (light rain over the weekend). Since planting most of the leaves (but not all) now look wilted and faded. Is this just transplanting shock? Is there anything in particular I can do to help it recover? Thank you!

ANSWER:

We absolutely think it is transplant shock, but there are a lot of things that could have caused that. Here are the Conditions Comments on Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow); you can read these and other comments on this tree by following the plant link.

"Conditions Comments: Allow to dry out between waterings, as this will encourage more extensive waves of blooms. Avoid excessive water and fertilizer, as that can lead to overly rapid growth, fewer blooms, and a weaker plant. Prolonged saturation can result in rot. Won't grow as fast or get as large in clay soil but wont suffer there either. Can be drought-deciduous in some regions. Can survive temperatures as low as 10 degrees F."

The first thing that would occur to us is that trees should be planted in Texas in cooler weather, like from December to January, when the tree is more dormant. If you already had this very large pot of tree, you probably did need to go ahead and plant it, but it still could have been hard on it. We hope you checked to make sure the roots were not circling around in that pot, which could lead to the plant choking itself to death.

The second thing is that you will note this tree needs very good drainage-water standing on its roots can cause rot. We advise preparing the hole and adding amendments like decomposed granite and compost to promote good drainage. It should be watered infrequently by pushing a hose down into the soil and letting it drip slowly until water rises to the surface. If the water stands there for more than half an hour, your drainage is not good. Water the same way, but for a short time and more often.

Third, in spite of the continued heat, it IS November. This is a deciduous tree and may just be ready to go dormant. Remember, do not fertilize. Most native plants do not need fertilizer, because they are already adapted to the soils, and excess fertilizer can actually shock the little new rootlets.

The final analysis is that avoiding transplant shock in anything has more to do with before the planting than after. Preparing the soil for drainage, checking the roots and waiting for colder weather would have been good choices. Hopefully it will cool off a litle and your tree can begin to flourish, even as it has normal leaf drop.

 

From the Image Gallery


Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

More Transplants Questions

Transplanting a Dutchman's pipe in Beaverton MI
June 10, 2010 - When can I transplant a full grown dutchmans pipe plant? It is growing along side of the house and it needs a bigger place to grow. This is June and the plant is in full bloom full of pipes, but need...
view the full question and answer

Invasiveness of native Viola sororia
June 13, 2007 - I live in Warwick, RI and have a section of my backyard overgrown with common blue violets. My husband and I would like to relocate them to a more scenic location if possible. The advice the cooperat...
view the full question and answer

Ensuring survival of wax myrtle in Wilmington, NC
July 29, 2009 - I just transplanted some wax myrtle bushes. What do I need to do to insure they live?
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock
July 27, 2006 - Today I dug up a new natchez variety crape myrtle that had only been planted about 3 months ago. It is fairly young. It was very difficult to dig up as it's root were pretty settled in the spot it ...
view the full question and answer

Browning leaves on non-native Burford holly
August 22, 2008 - I have several dwarf Burford hollies whose leaves are browning. The individual leaves have colors of green, dark brown to light brown extending from the stem. Any ideas?
view the full question and answer

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