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
6 ratings

Monday - April 30, 2012

From: Lufkin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Scorched leaves on Red Maple from Lufkin TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a Red Maple that we planted in Lufkin, TX about a month ago and fertilized about 2 weeks ago. We water the tree often. The leaves have become scorched looking on the outside of about 1/3 of the leaves. What can we do to make the tree healthier?

ANSWER:

Our first suspicion is your tree may be suffering from transplant shock. In the South and Southwest, we always recommend that woody plants (shrubs and trees) be planted in the cold weather of December to February. The trees are dormant then, and damage to roots or trunk is not quite as dangerous, plus you will not be asking a  plant to draw up enough water and nutrient through its tiny fragile new rootlets to survive.

We also recommend that you not fertilize trees, especially natives, especially soon after they are transplanted. The fertilizer wants to force the plant to grow more leaves, which just adds to the stress the tree has already gone through.

To check whether your tree is planted where it belongs, we checked our Native Plant Database for the common name "red maple." Four species of the genus Acer showed up so we selected Acer rubrum (Red maple) for our example.

This USDA Profile Map shows the this particular red maple is native to Angelina County, where it can enjoy the acidic soils that maples prefer.

Read this USDA Forest Service website on Red Maple. Scroll down to "Damaging Agents" and see if anything there sounds familiar.

On the whole, however, we think the problem is in the planting time and perhaps the fertilizer. Knock off the fertilizer. Water by sticking a hose deep down in the earth surrounding the roots and let it dribble until the water comes to the surface. Do this once or twice a week unless you are getting lots of rain, for about 6 months.

 

From the Image Gallery


Utah service-berry
Amelanchier utahensis

Red maple
Acer rubrum

Red maple
Acer rubrum

More Trees Questions

Failure to thrive of newly planted magnolia in Irving TX
November 10, 2009 - I planted four Little Gem Magnolia (Magnolia Grandiflora) in my back yard during first week of October 2009. One of them seem to be dying because its leaves have turned very brown and the leaves are c...
view the full question and answer

Cupressus arizonica with central leader cut in Sedona, AZ
February 11, 2009 - Will a healthy Cupressus arizonica continue to grow in its native habitat, in Arizona, once the central leader has been cut?
view the full question and answer

Failure of flameleaf sumacs to produce fruit
January 09, 2013 - Our two flame leaf sumacs produce none to little fruit. Both are about 4 years old, quite large, healthy looking; flowering this year was very good, but no fruit. What keeps them from producing fruit?
view the full question and answer

Leaf drop from live oaks in mid-summer
July 08, 2013 - We have a live oak that is starting to drop a considerable amount of leaves here in early July in Cypress Texas. Its a mature tree with a base diameter of 12-14" and 25-30' tall. We live in a subd...
view the full question and answer

Are non-native Chinese pistache poisonous to alpacas from Galt CA
October 07, 2012 - Are Chinese Pistachio trees poisonous to alpacas?
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