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

Wednesday - July 22, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Problem Plants, Trees
Title: Why is my Texas mountain laurel growing so slowly?
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I have a Mountain Laurel, Anacacho Orchid Tree and Desert Willow on the northern side of our yard - all three get full sun most of the day. The Mountain Laurel is closer to the east side. The other two trees planted in 2012 have doubled in height and are well above 10 feet tall. The mountain laurel looks like it has grown maybe 2 inches. What am I doing wrong? Does it need fertilizer (I haven't amended the soil since planting) or less/more water (weekly sprinkler per water restrictions and occasional hand watering during really hot days). It always has shoots growing from the base - flowered this year for the very first time (had two little purple blooms).

ANSWER:

I'm betting that your slow-growing tree is a Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel).  if so, relax.  You are probably not doing anything wrong.  TX mountain laurel naturally grows very slowly for the first few years.  Perhaps because it is busy sending a large taproot deep into the soil.  As this web site indicates, there will ultimately be a noticable growth spurt one spring, and the tree will continue growing in subsequent years.  It is well worth waiting for.

 

More Problem Plants Questions

Do white-tailed deer consume King Ranch bluestem?
October 25, 2013 - Will white-tail deer in central Texas consume King Ranch bluestem ?
view the full question and answer

Plants to replace Phragmites australis (Common reed) in Cedar Ridge Preserve
February 25, 2015 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in the DFW area and volunteer at a preserve (Cedar Ridge). We are constantly battling the common reed, Phragmites australis, around the pond. I am wondering what shou...
view the full question and answer

Identification of invasive plant
March 26, 2010 - I have found an invasive plant species in Martindale, Texas that I would like to identify for family members. It is taking over their pasture and is difficult to eliminate. It has not bloomed yet but...
view the full question and answer

Young huisache trees dying
October 02, 2015 - We have had several young huisache trees suddenly die. These trees are only three or four years old and were apparently healthy when they just died. They are growing by the curb on a city street and w...
view the full question and answer

Are there prescribed burn professionals in central Texas?
July 12, 2012 - I am looking for someone to hire for a controlled hillside burn. Can you recommend someone to hire?
view the full question and answer

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