En Español

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

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

Identification of tree with red feathery leaves
March 08, 2012 - What is the name of a tree with dark red leaves, feathery, slim trunk; maybe in the pepper family? Jedi?
view the full question and answer

Tree planting in OH
June 12, 2011 - When transplanting a tree (a maple in Spring in my case now), I understand that one should leave a surrounding doughnut like ridge around the root base to hold in the water from rains and irrigation. ...
view the full question and answer

Trimming a bur oak in Llano, TX
February 06, 2009 - We have a beautiful, large Burr Oak next to our house. This tree has many large lateral branches. I have trimmed dead branches, but no other trimming. It grows a lot of "suckers" during growing sea...
view the full question and answer

Noise reduction hedge row in Houston
October 01, 2009 - We live just one house back from the freeway and would like to plant a fast growing noise reduction 'hedge row' - close growing to 20-40 ft. We are looking at Leyland Cypress but know they aren't n...
view the full question and answer

Newly planted nuttall oaks from Houston TX
November 16, 2012 - I recently purchased two Nuttall Oak Trees in Houston Texas (October). They are both 15' or taller. I planted them within 24 hours of being delivered, watered them in, staked them, and within 3-4 d...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center