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?


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
1 rating

Monday - November 05, 2012

From: Blanco, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Soils, Vines
Title: Chlorosis in Texas Wisteria from Blanco TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Just noticed a Texas Wisteria I bought last month and it is already looking chlorotic. Mixed compost in w/the dirt it is planted in but I don't think that will be enough. Is Blanco soil too alkaline? Any soil organic ammendments I could use to acidify after it's planted?


As you can see from this USDA Plant Profile Map, Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria) occurs naturally in Texas only in counties in far eastern Texas. As do all wisterias, it requires an acidic soil, which of course you don't have in Blanco County. The compost was a good step, as that will aid in drainage. Poor drainage can often contribute to chlorosis.

Please read this previous Mr.Smarty Plants answer which deals with chlorosis, in this case, Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel). We are wondering if what you have diagnosed as chlorosis might be something else altogether. The wisteria is deciduous, it may just be preparing to go dormant for the winter. You just planted it, so it could very well be suffering from transplant shock. If you follow this plant link, Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria), to our webpage on that plant, you will see this in Conditions Comments:

"Conditions Comments: Prefers a good loamy soil in a sunny south or southwest facing position, sheltered from cold winds and from early morning sun on frosty mornings. Plants can become chlorotic on alkaline soils. Prefers a rich soil, but some gardeners feel too rich a soil results in too much leaf growth. Tolerates seasonal flooding."

We already know you have an alkaline soil and probably clay; you can't change that. Otherwise, consider what growing conditions you have given your plant and compare with those on the webpage for that plant. If you decide you have positioned the plant in the wrong place, it is still early enough to transplant it. It can be trimmed back for transplant, and if you repeat the addition of compost, plus some supplemental iron to the soil, you may very likely be able to have a flourishing vine next season. Our webpage also says that the vine can do well in a circumneutral soil, which is to say it doesn't absolutely require acidity to survive. One of our favorite gardening quotations is that plants don't necessarily grow where it is ideal but where they can get away with it. We think, with a little tweaking, your wisteria should be able to get away with it.


From the Image Gallery

American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens

American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens

American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Burning sulfur over coals in the home for insect control.
July 18, 2008 - Is burning sulfur(over hot coals) in your home a safe way of getting rid of ants and insects?
view the full question and answer

Yellowing of palm tree leaves
May 14, 2008 - I want to know about palm trees. The leaves are turning yellow.
view the full question and answer

Pruning oaks in August from Pflugerville TX
April 30, 2011 - Can I do minor pruning on my Lacey oak and bur oak in August if it is hot and dry? I'd like to prune one limb from each. The Lacey oak limb is about 2 inches in diameter, and the bur oak limb is ab...
view the full question and answer

Florist Gloxinia Care
October 01, 2015 - Got a florist gloxinia and it was doing great for months. Went on vacation and returned; it was wilted. Think son watered it too much. Allowed it to dry. It has some new leaves forming on the very leg...
view the full question and answer

Leaves on new water oak turning brown from Matagorda TX
May 30, 2013 - We had water oaks planted in January when they had no leaves. Leaves came on but are now turning brown.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center