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

Thursday - May 27, 2010

From: McAllen, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Saving non-native crape myrtles watered with salt water in McAllen TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a crape myrtle plants that were accidentally watered with salt water from a purifier that was drained. They are dying and turning brown. What can I do to revive them?

ANSWER:

Lagerstroemia indica, crape myrtle, is not native to North America. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. However, the effects of salt water would be the same on a native plant, so we will try to make some suggestions to help. 

Probably you need a Time Machine, in order to go back to right before that water was dumped on the plants, and then not do it. Salt water is sometimes used to kill weeds but, like many herbicides, it will kill the roots. Once the roots of a plant die, there is nothing to sustain the tree. If you act fast and have some luck, you might be able to resuscitate them. First, don't fertilize them. This is always a knee-jerk reaction when anything goes wrong with a plant. The last thing your trees need right now is stimulation to put on new growth when it is gasping for life. Next, trim off about 1/3 of the upper part of the plant, treating it like transplant shock. Then, make sure the trees are kept well-watered, in hopes that will dilute the effect of the salt.

If this doesn't work, please consider replacing the trees with some trees native to the area of Hidalgo County, in far south Texas. You can go to our Recommended Species section, click on South Texas on the map, and search for native trees suitable for your purposes. But don't plant them until late Fall, or you will risk losing the new trees to the heat and drought of the Texas Summer.  

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Acre-scale Grass Removal near Austin, TX
July 04, 2014 - How do I get rid of 10 acres of Kleingrass?
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native calla lilies
July 15, 2005 - How should I protect my calla lilies during the winter? If it helps you any, I live in South Carolina. And also will too much water hurt them? We have had massive amounts of rain.
view the full question and answer

Damage to non-native peach trees in Austin
January 02, 2010 - I have 3 peach trees, different varieties. In the past years it has just produced worm-eaten fruit, most of which falls to the ground before ripening. Can these trees be treated for a better crop th...
view the full question and answer

Penta and licorice plants for Austin
May 04, 2009 - For Austin location Are you familiar with a small flowering plant called Penta? How about Licorice? If yes, could you provide growing conditions. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Non-native Empress trees in Beaumont TX
September 26, 2009 - I want to grow some Empress Trees in our yard. We have a huge yard and it is right on the corner of a cross street where they have just put a traffic light. People stopped at the light can see into ...
view the full question and answer

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