Contact Us Host an Event 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

Thursday - February 20, 2014

From: Corpus Christi, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Drought Tolerant, Shrubs
Title: Cenizo dropping leaves from Corpus Christi TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Leucophyllum frutescens:I planted a Texas sage hedge in September of 2012. One of the plants is dropping its leaves. It is situated at the corner of an L-shape at the end of drive and corner of road. The others seem bushy and happy. I planted them about 4 ft apart. Wondering what could be the problem and if I should replace or give it extra attention. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Since the other plants are doing well, we have to assume there is sometbing to do with the location of that particular plant. If you will follow this plant link, Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo),  you can look at the growing conditions of this plant, compare them with the conditions your sick plant has, and observe what is different. We will give you some suggestions:

Generally, when leaves turn yellow and it is not the season to do so, it means chlorisis or an absence of some needed nutrient from the soil.

From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on chlorosis:

"Yellowish leaves could indicate chlorosis, or lack of iron being taken up by the plant from the soil. This is often caused  by poor drainage and/or dense clay soil, which causes water to stand on the roots. Again, this could  be a problem caused by planting, perhaps without any organic material added to hole, or damage to the tiny rootlets that take up water and trace elements, including iron, from the soil."

According to this USDA Plant Profile Map Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo) does grow natively in Nueces County, so your climate and soils are probably appropriate for it, and this brings us back to the area where you have planted the troubled Cenizo. Go out and look at your L-shaped row of the shrub. Do they appear to drain (one or both) into that particular point? This could mean that not only water put on the other plants but also excess fertilizer may be draining into that corner. And, if so, the roots of your bush are drowning. Cenizos should not be fertilized or over-watered. In a word, that plant is being killed by the resources the other plants are sending it.

If you determine this is the case and depending on how big the plant already is, you could take this plant out (now, while it's still relatively cool) and attempt to raise the area by adding compost, sand or decomposed granite, smoothing out the grade so it blends in with the other plants, and replant the original. And while you are at it, consider cutting back on the amount of water the whole hedge is receiving and forget the fertilizer. The other plants may be doing all right simply because they had the one poor victim to drain the extra water onto.

 

More Shrubs Questions

Non-native daylilies and pachysandra in same area from New York City
April 07, 2012 - Will daylilies and pachysandra thrive if planted in the same bed, or will they harm each other?
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for area around underground storm shelter
May 27, 2013 - We want to plant shrubs around our underground storm shelter to divide it from our parking area. Obviously, this is to avoid having someone drive on top of the shelter. What native shrub to North GA ...
view the full question and answer

Is Texas Mountain Laurel Honey Toxic in Fulshear, TX?
March 11, 2012 - Toxicity of Texas Mountain Laurel HONEY I know the seeds and leaves of the Tx Mountain Laurel are toxic. But, is honey that comes from the Mountain Laurel toxic too? I heard that it is, but can'...
view the full question and answer

plants for a rain garden's moist area in Central Texas
January 15, 2015 - I am looking for local natives to plant in the wet portion of a rain garden/bioswale. Can you help, please?
view the full question and answer

Native tree or shrub with fruit to espalier on fence
July 23, 2010 - I live in the Austin, TX area and I would like to choose a native tree or shrub to espalier on a fence in my garden. Ideally, I would like to use a tree that bears fruit. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

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