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
3 ratings

Friday - August 24, 2012

From: Phoenix, AZ
Region: Southeast
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Watering, Shrubs
Title: Ailing Tecoma stans from Phoenix AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have several young Tecoma plants in my Phoenix, AZ garden. I planted them in June and have tended to them over the summer. They are watered twice daily. On some of the plants, I've noticed two oddities with the leaves. While most of the leaves are fine, the leaves towards the top and side of the bush appear to be devoid of the green leaf material so that it looks like a skeleton of the leaf - not all the leaf, just part of the leaf. The other problem has several leaves that have a cocoon like appearance although there doesn't appear to be an occupant. There are tiny black specks (excrement?)on some of the leaves. I have removed the unhealthy looking leaves and even cut the entire leaf section off. Within a couple days, the same problems can be found. I cannot see anything eating the leaves day or at night. Do you have any idea what is going on with my Tecomas? Thanks!

ANSWER:

We realize you are having too much heat and intermittent sandstorms in Phoenix, but Tecoma stans (Yellow bells) is a desert plant, native to Arizona. It would have been better to have planted them in the cooler part of the year, like from November to January. Woody plants are very susceptible to transplant shock

Previously answered question on Tecoma stans (Yellow bells)Too much water, from Florida.

Please read this article from the University of Illinois on Chlorosis, which often is the result of nitrogen deficiency in the plant.

So, we have established three possible reasons for the failure of your yellow bells to thrive and all are linked to the time and method of planting. If your plant was not planted to allow for good drainage, such as adding compost or other organic material to the soil, the roots are drowning. The loss of green in the leaves is lack of chlorophyll, again a result of too much water on those roots.

From another previous answer:

"Chlorosis is a yellowing of leaf tissue due to a lack of chlorophyll. Possible causes of chlorosis include poor drainage, damaged roots, compacted roots, high alkalinity, and nutrient deficiencies in the plant. Nutrient deficiencies may occur because there is an insufficient amount in the soil or because the nutrients are unavailable due to a high pH (alkaline soil). Or the nutrients may not be absorbed due to injured roots or poor root growth."

Our recommendations:

1. Since you can't undo planting a woody plant in June, let a lesson be learned: Don't do it again.

2.  If you didn't plant with organic material, put a good quality shredded bark mulch over the roots. This will shelter the roots from heat and, as it decomposes, it will sink down into the soil and help amend it.

3.  Since your soil is almost certainly alkaline, take the planting provisos above to heart for all planting. Drainage, especially for desert plants, is vital for accessibility of moisture and nutrients. Compost, compost, compost.

4. Cut out all that water, probably a thorough watering once a week is sufficient. And no fertilizer. Most native plants do not need fertilizer and this plant particularly dislikes it.

 

From the Image Gallery


Yellow bells
Tecoma stans

Yellow bells
Tecoma stans

Yellow bells
Tecoma stans

More Shrubs Questions

Replacement of non-native red tip photinias in Midlothian VA
April 30, 2012 - I need to replace our long lived red tips. They are now diseased. I would like a fast growing bush that I can trim and make a hedge with. Any suggestions
view the full question and answer

How to correct Anacacho leaves that are turning brown and curling in Driftwood, TX?
May 11, 2012 - Anacacho lunarioides leaves are turning brown and curling,how do I correct?
view the full question and answer

Plants for pool area in Kentucky
June 12, 2010 - We live in central Kentucky and have a backyard pool that desperately needs some landscaping. I would like plants that don't drop a lot of leaves or "trash". I'd like a list of great poolside pl...
view the full question and answer

Colorful shrubs for Kansas
June 02, 2009 - I would like to plant some bushes or shrubs on the front side of our house which faces east. I would like them to grow 5' tall and provide beautiful color or blooms. What would be best for my locat...
view the full question and answer

Plant for part sun in Nampa Idaho
May 20, 2010 - What could I plant in arid SW Idaho on the northwest side of my house along a border against the house? Most of the day this area is in shade, but at the hottest time of the day it gets a couple of h...
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