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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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Sunday - April 08, 2012

From: San Angelo, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Shrubs
Title: Chlorosis in yaupon from San Angelo TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Thank you for your information on the yaupon holly. We just finished clearing out the mulch and the red ground cover that popped up. I will quit watering it as much as the rest of the plants. Our yard is all gravel, so I don't water the bushes often. However, the soil is sticky red dirt that turns into bedrock about two feet down. So, we'll see how it does with these adjustments and also read the article on chlorosis.

ANSWER:

Well, you moved right ahead on that. Your shrub roots probably don't need to go down 2 feet to the bedrock, because roots tend to spread out closer to the surface for adequate gas exchange, i.e.,  carbon dioxide and oxygen. Either the lighter mulch decomposing or some compost mixed into the soil will help. It sounds like you have clay soil, which has nutrients in it but is composed of tiny particles that swell up and prevent the movement of oxygen to the roots. The roots can even drown, but if you are watering the yaupon less, that should help.

 

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