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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 - June 03, 2011

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Transplants, Trees
Title: Transplant shock in Mountain Laurel in San Antonio, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I planted a 2 ft. tall Texas mountain laurel a month ago. Some of the leaves have turned very yellow and some of them are falling off. The plant doesn't look real healthy in general. I did add some crushed granite, just a little turkey and molasses compost and a few watersorb crystals to the soil before planting. Maybe I shouldn't have added anything. I water deeply about twice a week. Any idea why this plant has yellowing leaves? The leaves of my Carolina jessamine are also turning yellow and some shoots have died. One plant completely died and I replaced it. (I have 3) They were planted in late February (3 months ago). Also an established Cenizo has yellowing leaves as well. I have also had trouble with these plants getting a small black bug on the leaves which in turn kill the branches. I have many any other plants that are doing well so I don't think its a soil problem. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks that transplant shock and overwatering are probably at the root of your problems. I’m going to provide  you with several links that have information starting with planting techniques, transplant shock  (also see), and ideas about proper watering.

Mountain Laurel Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) is a drought tolerant evergreen which prefers rocky limestone soil that is well drained. Twice a week waterings probably keep the roots too wet, and the addition of watersorb only exacerbates the problem. The Cenizo Leucophyllum candidum (Brewster county barometerbush) also prefers dry conditions. The Carolina Jessamine Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine) prefers moist conditions, but could be experiencing transplant shock. One of the things that people tend to do with new plants is to overwater them.

There are a lot of diferent kinds of small black bugs, so that description isn't very helpful. Here is a link to a previous question regarding small black bugs that might prove useful. One of the culprits they mention is fungus gnats

 

 

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