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 Trees Questions

Shade trees for Spring TX
August 17, 2011 - Dear Mr.Pants, our west-facing backyard in Spring, Tx, is unbearable in this Summer's heat. Neither us nor the neighbors has any backyard trees established yet, as the subdivision is pretty new. C...
view the full question and answer

Is it OK to remove soil around oaks - Austin, TX.
May 24, 2013 - I have several oaks trees (one live oak + burr oaks) from 15'-35' in height. They seem healthy. A local arborist says they were planted too deep and that the soil around them needs to be excavated t...
view the full question and answer

Plants for under live oak in Houston
July 09, 2011 - Hi, We have a live oak in our back garden in Houston and would like to plant a combination of some native shrubs and flowers near it (preferably perennial). The garden bed is about 4 metres from the...
view the full question and answer

Clear pungent, liquid oozing from oak tree
June 28, 2010 - I have a large oak that over the last few days has been oozing a pungent, non sticky, clear substance from one specific site (no damage) about the size of a dime. It's attracting quite a few gnats, m...
view the full question and answer

Registered/patented pecan by Foster W. Fort
August 01, 2010 - Hello, we own a historic house museum once owned by the Fort family of Waco, and have learned that Foster W. Fort developed a type of pecan tree and had an orchard somewhere here around Waco (possibly...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center