Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Monday - July 22, 2013

From: Canyon Lake, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Sudden death of one side of Mountain Laurel from Canyon Lake TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello! We live in Canyon Lake TX and have a Mountain Laurel that is in distress. It is planted in an irrigated flower bed and has been happily growing for 5 years. It is about 5' tall and has several trunks growing out of the ground. All of a sudden, the entire right half of the tree looks like it is dying. The leaves are turning yellow and are falling off. Nothing has changed other than the fact that we put fresh mulch down about 2 weeks ago. The left half of the tree looks very healthy. I don't see any damage to the 2-3 trunks that represent the right half of the tree. I don't know what's wrong with it! Can you help? P.S. These are no signs of any pests.

ANSWER:

When one part of any plant suddenly goes into sharp decline, you have to assume there has  been some sudden shock or damage to that side. If the fresh mulch you put down is piled up against the trunk of the shrub, that would not be good, but not fatal so fast. And certainly not fatal to just one side. When something appears to begin dying so fast, we usually suspect a mistake made somewhere around the plant. In this case, it sure sounds like some herbicide, maybe meant to kill broad-leaved weeds in nearby grass, has come in contact with the branches of the Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel). Although you say you have detected no pests on the plant, we are going to go back and give you some previous answers on the subject and see if any of them ring a bell:

March 15, 2012

May 12, 2010

June 15. 2009

May 30, 2008

August 31, 2006

This USDA Plant Profile Map shows that the Texas Mountain Laurel is native to Comal County, so we can't blame your problems on planting the tree in the wrong place. Since we are not plant pathologists, we suggest you contact the Texas A&M Extension Education Office for Comal County to inquire if any similar problems have been reported in your area.

 

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

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

Time to transplant an Eastern Redbud in Pearland, TX
November 17, 2010 - When is the best time in the fall to transplant an Eastern Redbud tree in Pearland, TX? We have one approximately 6 feet tall in the back yard and want to move it to the front ASAP.
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of fern-like tree in Tennessee/North Carolina
June 17, 2011 - Was on my way to Hilton Head and noticed near the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, there was a tree standing about 4 feet tall. Thin straight trunk and at the very top was fern looking foliage...
view the full question and answer

Florida law on removing orange trees
March 24, 2007 - I live in a co-op mobile home park with a board of directors that tell me that if I have to cut down my orange tree that Florida law says that I have to replace it with another orange tree. I say that...
view the full question and answer

Identification of mystery tree in Huntington Beach, CA
March 25, 2015 - Have a "tree" that has grown from about 18" tall to about 10' tall in a little over a years time. It has a central trunk that is about 3/4" in diameter at it's largest. It has short thin branch...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.