Rent Shop 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

Tuesday - June 09, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils, Watering, Shrubs
Title: How will my Texas Mountain Laurel survive clay soil?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Pants: I live in a new neighborhood (brownfield site) in Central Austin where the developers have put fill in the yards. After not much more than 2 inches of topsoil you encounter fairly plastic clay ..much like you see along the 35 corridor near Waco. They've planted a several gallon size mountain laurel. Is the clay soil is going to be a problem? If so, is there something I can to to augment the soil? The leaves are light green, not the dark glossy green I see on more established laurels. Thanks much.

ANSWER:

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel)  is a hardy shrub/tree whose habitat includes brushy slopes and open plains, and is common in limestone soils in the western and southern parts of the Edwards Plateau. It prefers well drained sand, loam, clay, caliche, limestone. The key here is well drained.

The problem with the clay soil could be the drainage. The clay around your Texas Mountain Laurel is also acting as a "clay pot " which will restrict the root growth and cause the plant to become root bound after a while.

There are two courses of action to follow, and you can do one , or both. The second best action is to expand the size of the hole the tree is planted in and substantially increase the volume of well-drained soil around the tree. The best thing to do is to replant the Sophora, but plant it on mounded soil 4-6" above the grade of the garden, again using well-drained soil. I'd do both.  Also I would wait until late fall to do the transplanting. In the mean time, water carefully so you won't drown your plant.

 

 

 

More Soils Questions

Plants for full sun and clay soil in NY
May 06, 2008 - We live in upstate new york( zone 5) with full sun and clay soil. What flowers/flowering shrubs would be successful in this environment?
view the full question and answer

What is the application rate for dried molasses in Leander, TX??
February 10, 2012 - I bought dry molasses to add to my soil but the bag doesn't say anything about how much to add. Should I just sprinkle it around and it doesn't matter if it is more or less? I have 2.25 acres so I...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing leaves on Carolina jessamine from Las Vegas NV
March 21, 2014 - Carolina jessamine, has yellow leaves. 3 years old, grows on south wall, full sun. Same plant, in partial shade, has green leaves. Should I feed yellowish plant some nitrogen? If yes how much?
view the full question and answer

Tree to plant on rocky soil in San Antonio
March 10, 2012 - I want to plant a tree in a particular spot in the yard but after digging down 10 inches I hit solid rock. I filled the hole with water and it took hours for it to go down. It is one of the higher e...
view the full question and answer

Native Plants by Soil Type
June 17, 2015 - Can't find an appropriate place to ask this - would love to be able to search for plants that do best in acidic soil (soil pH) another filter on the search screen. May not be there because the data...
view the full question and answer

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