Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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 - August 11, 2014

From: Midland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Watering, Shrubs
Title: Recovery of water-stressed Agarita
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Hello! I planted a small agarita at the end of May and then left town for six weeks. During that time it was supposed to receive weekly deep irrigations to help it establish, but it seems that some weeks were missed and that in the other weeks the water may have been excessive. It now has many brown leaves - some entirely brown and some that are only green still in the very center. It really looks bad, though there are a few new young leaves that seem a healthy blue-green color. It also has three patches of webbing on it, but I don't see any holes in leaves. I was advised it may have been overwatered in my absence, so I have not yet watered it in the three weeks I've been home since (we did have a good rain nearly two weeks ago and I plan to water in a couple days.) Unfortunately it doesn't look any better than it did when I got home. Any advice for saving my plant? Thank you!

ANSWER:

Once established, Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita) is pretty tough, surviving severe mistreatment of the above-ground parts.  If the roots of your plant have taken hold at all, the plant should recover if you prune off the dead branches, leaving only the green leaf-bearing stems.  If in doubt, scrape the bark on a questionable branch.  If green shows under the bark the branch is still alive.  Revove the webbing - there may still be barberry webworms inside.  They may have eaten many of the emerging new leaves.  Keep the soil moist.  If it feels moist to your finger that is enough.  Mulch the base of the plant to help conserve moisture.

Agarita grows relatively slowly.  I would give your plant plenty of time to reover, perhaps even pampering it well into the autumn.

 

More Watering Questions

Opuntia drooping in Austin, TX
September 02, 2015 - I planted an optunia spp. in March. It has nearly tripled in size. This week, I noticed the entire plant has started to droop. Temperatures have been very high with no rain for weeks. The cactus is...
view the full question and answer

Watering oaks during drought in Austin
July 29, 2009 - Should we be watering our live oaks and Spanish oaks during this drought? How often and how much?
view the full question and answer

Leaf fall from Cedar Elm planted in clay
August 17, 2008 - I saw the answer to leaves falling off a cedar elm planted in clay. However I planted a Cedar Elm in my back yard. I dug a hole in the grass then planted and put grass back on top. I water every other...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of desert willow in Wimberley TX
August 10, 2010 - I have a desert willow. It is always, whether I water it or leave it alone, yellow/ brown leaves, dark spots on the leaves, losing leaves. now it looks sad and not very healthy. Can you please tell m...
view the full question and answer

Self-watering planters
August 12, 2008 - I'm a big proponent of the EarthBox (tm) phenomenon - that is, so-called "self-watering" or sub-irrigation planters where a separate but connected reservoir underneath the soil in the planter is fi...
view the full question and answer

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