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

Friday - April 12, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Survivors of a Cedar Elm thicket thinning.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I thinned a thicket of cedar elm saplings, but a few are now leaning excessively. Will they straighten up over time or should I go ahead and cut them too? Thanks!!

ANSWER:

Cedar elm Ulmus crassifolia (Cedar elm) is a large, oval-rounded tree growing 50-70 ft. high and 40-60 ft. wide. It is a nicely-proportioned, hardy, drought tolerant shade tree for a broad range of soil types.

You didn’t mention the size of the thicket or the height of the saplings, but here is what I think may have happened.

If the thicket was large, the saplings in the center were most likely getting less sunlight than the ones on the periphery of the thicket. As a result of the diminished light, they would elongate more quickly than the outer saplings, but they would be spindly and weak with poorly developed trunks. This growth phenomenon is known as etiolation. The outer saplings  with more light grew normally and were strong enough to support the etiolated plants. With the thinning of the thicket, the etiolated plants lost their support and are now leaning. With the etiolated plants now getting more sunlight, they should resume normal growth and become thicker and stronger. In the mean time, you could provide stakes to support the plants until they have the strength to support themselves.

So don’t cut them down; just wait for them to get used to their new environment.

 

From the Image Gallery


Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

More Trees Questions

Pruning a rough-leaf dogwood in spring
May 04, 2012 - Is it OK to trim a rough leaf dogwood now? Should I spray after trimming? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Replacement trees for southwest facing backyard in Austin, TX.
September 23, 2010 - The back of the house we are purchasing faces southwest and is completely devoid of large shade trees. I have been told that the previously existing trees were destroyed by oak wilt. I am in love wi...
view the full question and answer

Anacacho orchid not leafing out in Georgetown TX
April 18, 2013 - February 2012 I planted 2 4-ft anacacho orchids which did well. This spring, they have yet to leaf out or even bud. There is green, however, when I scratch the stems and some suckers at the bottom of ...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen for Sedona AZ
August 02, 2013 - I live In Sedona Az. A builder just built a house next to my house and the new house is ugly to look at. What plant or tree would grow fast and reach 18 foot in height fast. It can be about 5 to 6 foo...
view the full question and answer

Texas fan ash draining sap in Selma TX
May 14, 2010 - I have a 3-year-old Texas Fan Ash tree that has recently begun to drain sap. Should I be concerned? If yes, what can I do to save the tree? Thank You!!
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