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

Wednesday - June 09, 2010

From: Rockwall, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Diseases and Disorders, Transplants, Trees
Title: Browning leaves on recently planted chinkapin oak in Rockwall TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I just planted a chinkapin oak that is about 1 1\2 inches thick last week and now some of the leaves are turning brown. Does that mean its dying? Do you have any tips that I could use to protect it?

ANSWER:

We have a feeling it is suffering from transplant shock. We recommend planting woody plants, like trees and shrubs, in Fall or late Winter, while they are still semi-dormant, and less susceptible to damage. While there is not much you can do about it now, like unplant and do over, read this website from About.com: Landscaping on Transplanting Trees and Shrubs, to help you next time you want to plant a tree.

According to the USDA Plant Profile, Quercus muehlenbergii (chinkapin oak) does grow in and around Dallas County. It prefers alkaline soil which is rocky and sandy. There are both sandy and clay soils around your area of North Central Texas. If you have clay soil, you might be having problems with the kind of drainage the oak needs. Ordinarily, we would recommend that you stick a hose down in the dirt around the tree roots and let it slowly dribble in, to help compensate for it having been planted in hot weather. However, if your soil is clay, that could just make the problem worse. You might try it once, let the water run until it is on the surface. Then, if it takes more than half an hour to drain, it is not draining correctly. You will need to go to a practice of trying to work some compost into the area around the roots, and mulching the surface with shredded bark mulch to help protect the roots. That has the added benefit that, as the mulch decomposes, it will add to the composting effect in the soil, and help even more with the drainage. 

Finally, treating it as transplant shock, trim off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the upper part of the tree. You are pretty well out of the Oak Wilt danger area in Texas; usually, we would not recommend trimming an oak before about June 15, but the chinkapin oak is a white oak, and not very vulnerable to Oak Wilt. Trimming off that upper portion will help the roots get water up to the remaining leaves, in order for those leaves to continue manufacturing food for the whole plant. Make sure the soil stays moist but not soggy, and next time you plant a tree, wait until late Fall to do it.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Quercus muehlenbergii

Quercus muehlenbergii

Quercus muehlenbergii

Quercus muehlenbergii

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Encouraging native grasses to flourish
August 23, 2007 - We have been trying to restore the yard around the house with native grasses and forbs for the last two years. The soil is clay and nothing seems to grow. We have distributed 5 truck loads of mulch, p...
view the full question and answer

Allelopathc qualities in sunflowers
June 19, 2007 - I have a sunflower patch in the corner of my backyard (Maximilians, common sunflower, and silverleaf sunflower)and would like to use the spent stalks (sans the seedheads) as mulch in the fall. Howeve...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Eastern hemlock in Greenville SC
July 02, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a beautiful, young, 5 and a half foot tall Eastern Hemlock. I purchased and planted it two years ago in the fall. It has been doing very well all this spring. And ne...
view the full question and answer

Perennial blooming plants for Ashland MO
April 02, 2010 - I am beginning to create a flower bed in front of my house, I do not have a green thumb so I want to know what plants would come back yearly and I can plant now in Mid Missouri?
view the full question and answer

Oak leaf hydrangeas from Edwardsville IL
August 13, 2012 - Hello, I live in West Central Illinois (across the river from St. Louis) and I am considering planting several Oak leaf Hydrangea's in my yard. The location where I would like to plant them is und...
view the full question and answer

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