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?

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
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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - July 21, 2006

From: Leander, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Transplants, Trees
Title: Soapberry Transplant shock symptoms
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Please suggest a cause & cure for general yellowing of the leaves of Western Soapberry when planted in the ground 20 miles NW of Austin (thin, poor clay over limestone). Trees still in containers are fine. The yellowing is uniform, not specific to old or new leaves, and veins are the same color. The leaves are not "burned", curled or dying, just very yellow. It has been that way for months (since shortly after planting), with no visible change except to slowly become more yellow.

ANSWER:

Western soapberry, Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii is well known and much appreciated in some areas for its yellow-orange fall foliage. Your tree may actually be exhibiting a sort of early "fall foliage" response to the shock of being transplanted. It is likely to begin dropping many of those yellow leaves soon.

Actually, the loss of foliage now is probably a good thing as it is the tree's way of reducing stress caused by dessication. When a plant of any kind (even a container-grown one) is newly transplanted, the roots are inevitably damaged to some extent. The remaining roots are no longer able to meet the water demands of the top growth and the plant suffers what is commonly referred to as transplant shock. Removing some of the top growth by pruning at the time of transplanting (it's not too late to do it now) is the best way to reduce the stress to your new tree and help it become established more quickly. Giving the new transplant more water to compensate for the loss of roots is usually a sure way to kill the plant by "drowning" the roots.

It is possible that your tree is exhibiting a response to a soil nutrient issue, but that is not as likely. If the soapberry produces yellowed foliage next year, then you should suspect a nutrient problem. In that case, you might want to have your soil tested to determine what kind of soil chemistry issues you're dealing with.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

What's causing holes in trunk of white oak tree in SouthBend IN?
June 10, 2013 - We have a huge White Oak in our backyard that is approx. 130 years old. This evening I became aware that there are several small holes around the trunk that appear to be oozing a dark sappy liquid. ...
view the full question and answer

Mildew and rot in navel orange tree in California
September 02, 2008 - I have a great navel orange tree that seems to have two problems. One of them looks like powdery mildew and the other is some kind of black rot. I have sprayed it several times to no avail. I live ...
view the full question and answer

Will damage to live oak root make it more susceptible to oak wilt
December 24, 2012 - Hi. I knicked the root of a live oak when digging. Will this hurt the tree and make it more succeptible to wilt? Is there something I can use to protect the exposed part of the root and make it les...
view the full question and answer

How to treat bark damage on oak tree
November 15, 2011 - I have an oak tree approx. 50 ft., live in austin, texas. the tree has dropped bark about 3-4 ft above ground, in a section of 4 inches by 8 inches, and the tree appears dark where the bark was. is ...
view the full question and answer

Older leaves yellowing on Savannah holly in Dallas
May 01, 2009 - I planted a Savannah Holly in Dallas, TX in the Fall of 2008. It has new growth and some white buds all over it, but some of the older leaves are turning yellow and dropping off. Is this normal?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center