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

Friday - September 03, 2010

From: Liberty Hill, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Transplants, Watering, Trees
Title: Mexican Plum not doing well in Liberty Hill, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Two summers have passed since I planted my Mexican Plum. It's in full sun. It seems to have added height but not much width. It's virtually a 7 foot stick with 1 foot branches from top to bottom. It always looks a little wilty but in the recent heat some of the leaves on top have turned deep orange. When I do water it I use two five gallon buckets with small holes in the bottom. In these 100 degree days I water every two weeks. Is this tree supposed to look like a skinny shrub? Should I be trimming it up from the bottom?

ANSWER:

Mexican Plum Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum) is the common wild plum of the forest-prairie border from Missouri and eastern Kansas to Texas.

From the information available, I'm guessing transplant shock. The plant has not been able to establish a root system that is in balance with the top of the plant. Until it does, the plant won't prosper.

What to do? First of all, don't fertilize. This is often our first impulse, but a stressed plant doesn't need fertilizer. Instead, add some mulch, working it in around the base of the trunk, leaving a thin layer on the top in order to hold moisture and provide nutrients as it decomposes. It can also protect the roots from the excessive heat. The plant needs evenly moist, well drained soil for the roots to develop, so continue your watering regime, slacking off some when the fall rains come.

The appearance of the leaves is normal for Mexican plums at the end of their growing season.

The links below add additional information about transplant shock, as well as tips for preventing it, and correcting it. One of the tips you’ll find is to be patient

http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id80/id80.htm 

http://www.organicgardening.com/feature/0,7518,s1-4-76-1292,00.html

http://www.northscaping.com/InfoZone/TS-0011/TS-0011.shtml 

 

From the Image Gallery


Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

More Watering Questions

It's so hot, even the Salvia greggii are sad, in Bulverde Texas
July 28, 2011 - I have several Salvia greggii in large terra cotta pots. The leaves have developed a yellowish tint and are thinning. What is the best process to get them back to full green foilage?
view the full question and answer

Watering practices for live oaks in drought from New Braunfels TX
September 04, 2011 - We have conflicting info about watering live oaks. An arborist says to water now using soaker hoses or small sprinklers and a landscaper who spoke to our garden club said that after August is too late...
view the full question and answer

Sycamore leaf snowbell from Pleasanton TX
August 18, 2012 - How do you care for a sycamore leaf snowbell. Does it like sun or part shade? How much water? How often and what should it be fed. How fast or slowly does it grow? Anything you can tell me would be ap...
view the full question and answer

Proper watering of cedar elm trees in Sachse, TX
August 15, 2008 - I've just planted two Cedar elm trees in clay soil, each about four inches in diameter, and I want to water them correctly. I'm aware that too much water can be bad as well as too little water. I ...
view the full question and answer

Care for non-native 'Glacier Blues' from Charlton MA
March 24, 2012 - Do you have to prune or cut down Glacier Blues in the garden? My plants look brown and wilted.
view the full question and answer

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