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

Wednesday - August 29, 2012

From: Sunrise Beach, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Shrubs
Title: Problems with mountain laurel from Sunrise Beach TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

In Llano Co., TX near lake LBJ, crushed granite type soil - my 4 - 5 year old TX Mtn. Laurels (2), about the size of large wheel barrows, are turning very pale, dropping leaves and on 1 the seed pods have been bored into and have turned dark. I did plant them according to directions but have forgotten details now and until now they have been healthy. We water them occasionally, mostly allowing them to live on what rain we get at this age. What could be wrong? I have photographed them if there is a way to email you photos.

ANSWER:

We are sorry, but we are no longer able to accept pictures.  You can go to our Plant Identification page which has links to several websites that do accept pictures; you may be able to get more information from that.

However, since Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) is a plant that is native to the area of Llano County, according to this USDA Plant Profile Map, we can assume that the  soils where you have planted the tree are hospitable to it. And since it is four or five years old, we can be fairly confident that you planted it with provisions for good drainage. If you follow this plant link, Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel), to our webpage, you can study the Growing Conditions and Propagation Instructions to make sure everything is as it should be, although it sounds as though you are giving it good care.

So, we have to go looking for some pest or disease that may be causing your problems. Most of the references we found assured us the Mountain Laurel was subject to few problems; don't you hate when they say that and you KNOW there is something? One site, Texas A&M Integrated Pest Management,  has an article Genista Caterpillar on Texas Mountain Laurel, which includes suggestions on management.

In a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on Mountain Laurel, we discussed the possibility of chlorosis, or loss of chlorophyll, in the leaves of the same plant.  Please follow that link and note that we recommended the addition of an iron supplement to the soil because of the difficulty a plant can experience in extracting nitrogen from an alkaline soil. Also, consider our suggestion for adding a shredded bark mulch over the roots of the tree, which will both protect the roots from heat and cold but, as it decomposes, amend the drainage in the soil.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Shrubs Questions

Moving a volunteer holly from Springfield IL
October 11, 2010 - When would be the very best time to move a volunteer holly? I would say it is 3 years old, it stands about 5 feet tall, shaped like a very nice tree and it keeps its leaves. Thank you. Karen
view the full question and answer

Non-fruiting Willamette raspberry plant in Wateford CA
May 23, 2013 - I have a 2 year old Willamette Raspberry plant that has many blooms, bees, great growing conditions, very healthy but has never set one fruit. I know about pruning. Any suggestions? It has been bloomi...
view the full question and answer

Origin of name of hybrid Ilex x attenuata
December 11, 2010 - Could you please tell me where Eagleson, or also called Eagleston Holly got its name ?
view the full question and answer

Non-berrying possumhaw from Austin
June 05, 2014 - I planted a possumhaw 8 to 10 years ago for the beautiful winter color, it has never set berries. I see tiny white flowers along the branches each spring, and always hope this will be the year, but I...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
June 12, 2014 - We live in Magnolia TX and have a shrub we can't identify. It's evergreen and has waxy leaves with a serrated edge that are about an inch in length. They have pink flowers and they grow to ab...
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