Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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!

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 serviceberry
Amelanchier utahensis

Red maple
Acer rubrum

Red maple
Acer rubrum

More Trees Questions

Tree leaves being chewed in Austin
July 04, 2009 - We planted a Texas Redbud tree, and Monterey Oak (Mexican White Oak) in the front yard this spring and both have had their leaves eaten or chewed by something I cannot find on their leaves. At first I...
view the full question and answer

Planting Anacacho orchid tree in Llano, TX
October 05, 2011 - Re Bauhinia lunarioides: I'm trying to pick a good site in Llano Co for a 5 gal tree I received as a gift. Your plant database says part shade. The arid zone trees publication you reference in a...
view the full question and answer

Drought Resistant Privacy Screen for North Side of Austin Texas House
July 10, 2016 - We live in the densely populated Mueller development, where there's barely 3 feet from our home to the 6 foot high privacy fence between us and the house next door. Since the houses are 2 stories, we ...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of Magnolia in Webster FL
May 24, 2009 - Do all Magnolias Bloom? I live in Central Florida - transplanted a Magnolia 7 1/2 years ago. It is a beautiful tree - very healthy - at least 10-12 ft. It has never had a bloom!! I have another li...
view the full question and answer

Trees for townhome backyard in Fullerton, CA
August 15, 2009 - Hi, I live in a townhome with a big backyard here in Orange County. Last year, I got rid of my ficus trees that had grown too tall and big for a townhome backyard. Now, I would like to plant two tre...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.