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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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Wednesday - June 22, 2011

From: Sugar Land, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Transplants, Watering, Shrubs
Title: Need help with my Mountain Laurel in Sugarland, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Texas Mountain Laurel - My plant's leaves are turning yellow and falling off. I don't know if this is caused from over watering or under watering. I have skipped days of watering to see if it will help, but it doesn't seem to be helping. I bought it at a nursery and it is a decent size and at first it appeared to be doing well (in ground), now it is not looking good. Please help. I really, really, really want to grow this beautiful shrub/tree. Thank you so much!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is guessing that it is probably over watering. You didn’t mention how long your plant has been in the ground, but if you have recently planted it, transplant shock may be your problem which is often linked to over watering.

Texas Mountain Laurel Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) is very popular as a native evergreen ornamental tree within its range, valued for its handsome, dark green foliage and lush early spring blooms. It is drought-tolerant, prefers rocky limestone soil, and is native from central Texas west to New Mexico. This USDA Distribution Map shows that it occurs natively in Wharton County, but not Fort Bend County. However, if you can supply its growth requirements, you should be able to get it to grow there as well. From its NPIN page, you see that it requires low to medium water, alkaline soil (pH >7.2), and dry, rocky , well drained (preferably calcareous ) soil. The key words here are alkaline, well drained soil. Like many woody plants native to rocky soils, it is slow growing.

I am going to give you two links that deal with transplant shock, and another concerning proper watering.

Transplant Shock

    Morton Arboretum

    University of Kentucky

Watering Tips
     University of Oregon

We get lots of questions about Mountain Laurel, so I am going to provide you with a link to a previous question which in turn has links to other links.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

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