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?


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

Saturday - May 11, 2013

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Planting, Trees
Title: Root ball disintegrating on Arroyo sweetwood from Dripping Springs TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I just purchased a arroyo sweetwood in a 5 gallon container and when I went to put it in the ground the root ball completely fell apart. I put it in the ground and watered it really good. What are its chances of surviving?


Please see this previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on Myrospermum sousanum (arroyo sweetwood). Because our Native Plant Database contains information only on plants native to North America, excluding Mexico, we have no information on this plant. We can, however, attempt to answer your question on the bare-root planting of your tree.

The answer to your question depends on several factors about which we know nothing:

1. Was the tree planted before the weather got hot? We usually recommend that woody plants, trees and shrubs, be planted in Texas in cool weather, when the plants are semi-dormant, like November to January.

2. Did you  buy it from a reputable nursery with which you have done business before? To be honest, it doesn't sound like that plant had been rooted in the pot; perhaps a bare-root plant was stuck in the dirt and loose dirt poured over it, shortly before it was sold to you.

3. Did you amend the soil from the hole for the tree with some compost or other organic material to make it easier for the tiny new rootlet to absorb nutrients and water from the soil?

4. Have you been watering it by sticking a hose deep down in the dirt around the hole and letting it dribble until the surface soil was wet, about once a week?

Any of these actions or lack of same can contribute to whether or not the tree survives. Transplant shock is one of the most common causes of loss of trees. You are the only one who can answer the question on whether it will survive. Time will tell.


More Trees Questions

Selection of trees for new home
June 30, 2008 - We are moving to Roanoke, Texas(Denton County) into a new home. Our home will have 3 trees which we can choose. They are Texas Ash, Live Oak, Sweetgum, Silver Leak maple, Cedar Elm and Bradford Pear...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing tree for privacy in Berkeley, CA
July 30, 2013 - Help. I need fast growing tree for backyard privacy. Where in Berkeley is there a tree nursery to Buy Pittosporum trees? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Small to medium specimen native tree for Texas Hill Country
August 20, 2004 - Can you recommend a small to med. 'specimen' tree to plant near our patio? Full sun, drought tolerant, interesting during different seasons. Thought about Blanco Crabapple, Rusty Blackhaw, Smoke Tr...
view the full question and answer

Growths on Shumard Red Oak leaves from Katy TX
April 01, 2013 - Our beautiful Shumard Red Oak has developed lots of light green grape like growths on the leaves. Please inform us what this could be and how we should treat it?
view the full question and answer

Replacing mature Arizona Ash trees in Austin
August 26, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I have 2 very large, very old Arizona Ash trees in my yard. I want to remove them and replace them with something like Cedar Elm or Chinquapin Oak. The problem is that they are t...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center