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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - March 13, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Soils, Transplants, Watering, Trees
Title: My newly planted Mountain Laurel isn\'t doing well.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

My mountain laurel was planted from a container in Dec. It is in part sun, clay soil, and its leaves are turning yellow. should I move it or will that kill it?

ANSWER:

 Mountain Laurel Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) is a hardy, slow growing evergreen with showy purple flowers. It prefers rocky, well drained soils with sand, loam, clay, caliche, limestone. It can live in full sun or partial shade, but blooms more abundantly in full sun. It is not very tolerant of being transplanted, so please don't move it.

You didn't mention the size/age of the plant, but it could be suffering from transplant shock. You say it is in clay soil which isn't the preferred type, and there is a tendency  for people to over water newly planted plants; so the combination of poorly drained soil with too much watering could be causing the problem.

I would suggest that you, without disturbing the roots any more than you have to, try to incorporate some organic material like compost or leaf mold into the soil to improve the drainage. Water deeply but infrequently. Trim up to 1/3 of the upper structure the foliage including the dying leaves. Leave enough leaves to nourish the plant, but not so many as to put undue stress on the developing root system.

This Plant Answers link has a lot of good information about caring for your Mountain Laurel.

 

 

 

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