Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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 - 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

 

 

More Trees Questions

Seeds or seedlings of Texas madrone (Arbutus xalapensis)
January 03, 2009 - Where can I obtain seeds or seedlings of the "Texas Madrone" tree? Thank You.
view the full question and answer

Pruning wax myrtles from Austin
March 29, 2011 - I've got some wax myrtles that have grown up in the last 10 years on my property line, completely volunteer. My neighbor has begun to grumble about too much shade on his yard. I'd like to trim them ...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen plants for a windbreak
June 13, 2008 - Our church has need to plant a windbreak. We would like fast growing native plants, preferably evergreen or really early 'leafers' to protect us from our windy season beginning in mid/late February....
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a bald cypress from Houston
December 10, 2012 - We would like to transplant a bald cypress from front yard to back. It is about 10 ft tall, 3" trunk diameter, 2-1/2 years old and in good health. Any idea how large the root ball might need to be du...
view the full question and answer

Wild native trees with orange blooms
March 30, 2012 - What is the wild native tree that is blooming orange blooms - as you drive down the road thru Chappel Hill, and Brenham area. I've never seen these before when we went viewing bluebonnets - however,...
view the full question and answer

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