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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Tuesday - March 06, 2012

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Ligustrums planted last summer are doing poorly in Houston, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I planted large mature ligustrums trees (~ 8 ft) last summer and the leaves are turning yellow and falling off. Can you please tell me what the cause of this might be and what we can do to prevent the plant from further decay?

ANSWER:

Let me start by stating that the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes. You may have Ligustrum japonicum which is an introduced species from Japan, and is considered an invasive species in Texas. This Nativw Plant Guide by the Houston Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas explains their Exotics Instead of Common Exotics (NICE) program. See page 24 for possible alternatives to Ligustrum in the Houston area.
 
When you say last summer, are you talking about the summer of 2011, one of the hottest summers on record? If so, Mr. Smarty Plants is thinking your Ligustrums are suffering from transplant shock. Summer is not a good time to transplant large trees/shrubs.
I’m including three links that explain transplant shock, and steps that can be taken to prevent it and treat it.

Clemson University

northscaping.com

gardeningknowhow.com

 

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