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

Control of live oak root sprouts, or suckers, under tree
September 19, 2007 - Have live oak trees in clusters with circular beds surrounding in frontyard. Have been invaded by some type weed that looks a bit like holly. Woody stem a few inches high with several serrated leave...
view the full question and answer

Viability of Desert Willow in clay soil in Fredericksburg, TX
November 25, 2005 - I have recently purchased a house in a new subdivision in Fredericksburg, TX. The lot was not landscaped. I have a small lot (85 X 135), my back yard is about 50 X 85. The soil is a heavy clay. I am c...
view the full question and answer

Can Live Oak suckers be mowed during Oak Wilt spread season in Austin?
April 12, 2010 - I live in South Austin, not too far from the Wildflower Center. I have a Live Oak in my yard with a substantial amount of sucker growth from the roots. Can I mow them freely throughout the year, or ...
view the full question and answer

Can a pecan tree be kept from producing for a season?
July 03, 2009 - Can a pecan tree be kept from producing for a season?
view the full question and answer

Amendments for faster-growing trees from Bulverde TX
July 04, 2010 - What faster growing trees will grow in black gumbo clay that is about 12 inches deep above caliche rock in full sun with a sprinkler system set on 1 inch/week? How many and how much amendments such...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center