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?


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

Sunday - September 08, 2013

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Disease or insect damage on a Mexican plum
Answered by: Guy Thompson


Help, Our Mexican plum tree is about 13-14 years old. Earlier this year we noticed the trunk is oozing black stuff and whole branches are dying off. We have watched as our beloved tree has lost most of its remaining leaves this summer and want to know if this is just old age?? or perhaps something called verticullum??Chlrosis? SP? Is there anything we can do to save it outside of fumigating the ground? Would we be able to replant another Mexican plum in this location without treating the ground?


Peach and plum trees are relatively short lived, often peaking around 10 years of age.  But it all depends upon conditions around the individual tree.  Your plum seems to be suffering from a fungal or bacterial disease, such as canker, or from attacks by borer insects.  The indicated websites give instructions for diagnosing the tree's problem and treating it. Deciding whether to doctor the tree or replace it probably depends upon your sentimental attachment to it.  A replacement tree should do well if you have taken the recommended precautions to destroy any pests that persist in the soil.  Also, young trees are usually more resistant to diseases than older ones.

If you do decide to replace your Mexican plum tree it would be best to wait until winter.  Replacements will be available in your local plant nurseries.


More Trees Questions

Why is my Ash drooping?
June 22, 2009 - Last spring, I bought a house in Austin, TX with a large Ash tree in the front yard. It looked fine last year, but has been looking funny since it leafed out this spring. It's as if the leaves are we...
view the full question and answer

Thuja arborvitae not thriving in Austin
November 04, 2010 - I planted 5 giant thuja arborvitae two years ago. They have grown six inches and aren't doing that well. I live in Austin Texas and it was a hot summer. I water them 2x a week, now 1x a week. They a...
view the full question and answer

What can be planted under a pine tree in Detroit, MI?
April 22, 2008 - What type of plant would you suggest I plant under my big (Blue bruce) pine tree? It's about 25 ft high and the branches are trimmed to about 4 feet up, so it does get some light but mostly shade.I a...
view the full question and answer

Runaway growth on mountain laurel in Coolidge AZ
July 01, 2010 - I have 2 mountain laurels. They are thriving well. In fact one is growing way too fast. I am growing it as a tree, but the branches are in excess of 6 feet, while the trunk is only 18 or so inches. I ...
view the full question and answer

Trees for privacy screen
August 08, 2012 - Hello, We'd like to plant a privacy screen to hide our view of an adjacent apartment complex. Ideally the trees or other plantings might be a native species, and preferably they would eventually rea...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center