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

Thursday - July 19, 2012

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Watering, Trees
Title: Watering Native Trees in Georgetown, TX
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I installed a native/adapted plantscape in early March including several small trees. They were planted in the rocky soil west of I-35 in Georgetown with plenty of added compost and mulch. Other than an initial root stimulator dose at planting, they have not been fertilized. All three possum haw and one of two anacacho orchids have many leaves that are browning at the tips. I know the heat and drought are factors adding to their stress. They get watered with bubblers three days a week, 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening each day. I'm concerned that I'm either over- or under-watering. How can I tell which.. or is there something else possibly going on?

ANSWER:

  Mr Smarty Plants initial vote went for over-watering, you should really cut that down,  but on consideration - transplant stress is another strong possibility since the Possumhaw seems to be reacting worse than the Anacacho Orchid!  How can you tell if it's watered correctly?  Test the soil near the tree.  After watering it should be damp to a depth of 4-5 inches.  Check out the Forest Service video referenced below.  For information on the best growing conditions look at the plants record in the plant database.

Bauhinia lunarioides (Anacacho orchid tree) is found fully naturally in West Texas towards the Rio Grande Valley - It is acclimatized to quite dry conditions and the plant record [under Growing Conditions] indicates it does best in dry soil with low water conditions.

Ilex decidua (Possumhaw) is much more tolerant of water.   It is native to Central to East Texas and the Plant Record indicates it likes moist soil and medium watering. It is a bit inconsistent with my call of overwatering that all of the possumhaw are affected and only one of two Anacacho Orchids is; this is a little more indicative of transplant shock.

Still 3X/week at 30 minutes per watering day is quite a bit of water. The Wildflower Center also has a page - Drought Resource Center - Watering information is there including The City of Austin Earthwise Guide to Tree Care during Drought and a Forest Service Video on Tree Watering Tips. Note especially on the video, the use of a screwdriver to test the soil to see if it's watered enough.  A reasonable guideline for watering trees would be to set the bubblers to water once every 2 weeks for 2 hours instead of 15 minutes 2x a day. Once the trees are established, in about 2 years time, stop watering unless there is extreme drought.

 Is something else going on - maybe.  When I checked the other Mr Smarty Plants answers, they look fairly even that leaf browning may be watering [over OR under] and/or transplant shock.
- Anachacho Orchid leaves turning brown and curling in Driftwood.
- Leaves turning brown and dropping in Austin
- Possumhaw loosing leaves in Liberty Hill after transplant
- Brown Leave on Possumhaw in Grandview TX

 

From the Image Gallery


Anacacho orchid tree
Bauhinia lunarioides

Anacacho orchid tree
Bauhinia lunarioides

Anacacho orchid tree
Bauhinia lunarioides

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

More Watering Questions

Calcium from Eggshells for Ferns?
December 15, 2014 - I was reading recently about beneficial additions to the soil/plant. The first was about soaking used egg shells overnight and then pouring the water onto ferns. They said that the calcium in eggshell...
view the full question and answer

Replacing Drought-Stricken Cedars
January 16, 2012 - Hello, I live in Williamson County on a couple acres. We have several dead cedars as a result of drought; we're reluctant to cut them down because many of them provide a friendly barrier between us...
view the full question and answer

Cedar trees dying in CO
July 18, 2011 - We have mature cedar trees at the home we bought in SW Colorado. The large ones have begun to die. Can too much water kill a cedar tree and is there anything I can do to keep them alive?
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in Texas natives garden
August 20, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I thought that my new Texas Natives garden was recuperating from ALL the rain. But, suddenly, my Texas Red Bud and the Eve's Necklace next to it have MANY yellow leaves. Is the...
view the full question and answer

Native New Jersey plants to remove iron water from Lawrenceville NJ
October 20, 2012 - Are there any native New Jersey plants that can remove iron water
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