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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - October 24, 2012

From: Bulverde, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Poisonous Plants, Shrubs
Title: Suitability of Carolina Cherry Laurel for Bulverde TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

The local Home Depot is selling Carolina Cherry Laurel Trees. They look beautiful. Is this a good tree for Bulverde TX..20 miles north of San Antonio? Can it survive? Will it be a high maintenance tree?

ANSWER:

According to this USDA Plant Profile Map, Cherry Laurel grows natively in Travis County, just one county north of Comal County. We believe that is close enough that soils, rainfall and climate should certainly be favorable to this plant. If you will follow this plant link, Prunus caroliniana (Cherry laurel), to our webpage on that plant, you will get a good summary of information about this plant. 

For planning its use in a landscape, you might want to particularly take note of this:

"Warning: The seeds, twigs, and leaves of all Prunus species contain hydrocyanic acid and should never be eaten. Leaves of Prunus caroliniana are particularly high in this toxin."

If you have small children playing near this plant, or pets that like to chew things, this is something to consider, but at one time we had volunteer cherry laurels coming up in a landscape which we cultivated and pruned and never had a problem with toxicity.

From that same page, here are the Growing Conditions for that plant:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist, deep, loamy, well-drained soils. Clay Loam, Medium Loam, Sandy Loam, Sandy
Conditions Comments: Likes the moist, well-drained soils of its natural range. Prolonged saturation can cause root rot, particularly in clay soils. Shallow, nutrient-poor, rocky soils can cause chlorosis and heat stress."

In Central Texas soils the requirement of "well-drained" soils is nearly universal. Adding some compost to the soil when you return it to the hole dug for the plant can certainly help with that. We usually recommend waiting until cooler weather, like November to January, to transplant woody shrubs and trees, to help prevent transplant shock. Just one more thing to think about is that you should check to make sure the plant you purchase is not rootbound, from being too long in that pot. You can deal with it by root pruning; otherwise, the roots will just continue to circle around and around in the ground until they strangle the tree.

 

From the Image Gallery


Carolina cherry-laurel
Prunus caroliniana

Carolina cherry-laurel
Prunus caroliniana

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Erosion control in Santaquin UT
August 11, 2009 - I have a hill in my backyard; it is about 40 ft tall and about 80 ft wide. It is probably a 1.5 to 1 slope ratio. I am going to be landscaping my back yard and have top soil put on the hill as well. S...
view the full question and answer

Use of newspaper mulch in garden
January 05, 2007 - Before constructing a raised garden, I would like to lay newspapers at the initial ground level, then add about 12 to 15 inches of compost on top of that. Would that hurt the plants? And will the ne...
view the full question and answer

Do leaves with tannins make good compost from Austin
November 04, 2010 - I have a couple of old native pecan trees in my (or neighbor's) yard that drop bushels and bushels of leaves every fall. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I have a recollection that pecan leaves have...
view the full question and answer

Watering needs for a new landscape
October 11, 2008 - How much and how frequently are you supposed to water after implementing a new landscape? For example, perennials and succulents that are drought tolerant.
view the full question and answer

Seeding wildflowers in Dallas
June 30, 2009 - What is the best way to establish seed for wildflowers in Dallas, TX? The area does get some irrigation from rotors. Would hydromulch be the most effective option?
view the full question and answer

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