Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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
2 ratings

Monday - July 25, 2011

From: Bastrop, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Transplants, Watering
Title: Possible freeze damage in Wax Myrtle from last winter in Bastrop, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Our Wax Myrtle is about 7 yrs old and in good shape until this past winter when we had several very hard freezes. Now several of the large branches are dead and more are dying each month. We have not had to fertilize or do anything but water every week. What might be the cause(s) and what should we do to save our tree? It is about 10 - 12 feet tall. Thanks so much!

ANSWER:

You need to inspect the plant to see if there is insect or fungal damage. You might enlist the aid of the folks at the Bastrop County office of Texas AgriLife Extension in this endeavor.

Your Wax Myrtle Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) may be telling you that it didn’t like that cold winter. Depending on its location and the extent of exposure, the freezes may have damaged the root system, and the plant is responding to an imbalance between the root systems and the shoot system. This is similar to what happens in transplant shock where the roots are damaged and the balance is disturbed when the plant is transplanted. So one scenario is to treat this as a case of transplant shock. I’m providing links to websites dealing with transplant shock that provide various remedies for the problem. You need to pick the suggestions that most closely fit your situation.

There are three activities that are recommended in the articles:

Pruning; remove the dead branches, and perhaps some of the live ones to reduce the water demand on the root system. Don’t take off so many leaves that  photosynthesis is impaired.

Watering; keep the soil evenly moist, but avoid overwatering. Wax myrtle prefers moist soils.

Mulching; apply a layer of mulch under the plant to prevent water loss from the soil and to keep the roots from getting too hot.

Although you may be tempted to fertilize the plant, don’t do it. Stressed plants do not need fertilizer.

Websites
   Clemson University

   northscaping.com

 

More Watering Questions

Watering needs for a new landscape
October 11, 2008 - How much and how frequently are you supposed to water after implementing a new landscape? For example, perennials and succulents that are drought tolerant.
view the full question and answer

Mexican Plum with wilted leaves in Austin, TX.
June 06, 2012 - I am new to Texas & have a yard with mature mexican plum trees. They are quite beautiful however as summer sets in I notice that the leaves appear "wilted". Is this normal or should I be providing...
view the full question and answer

Decline of indoor lemon cypress
June 25, 2008 - I received a lemon cypress as a gift. I have kept it indoors in bright light and tried to keep it moist. When I received the plant the foliage was soft and now it has become brittle and dry even tho...
view the full question and answer

Gregg's Mistflower stressed in Fredericksburg TX
August 07, 2013 - My Gregg's Mist Flower plants are very stressed. The blooms have turned brown and the leaves are drooping. Plants are receiving moderate sun, partial shade. Do they need daily watering this time o...
view the full question and answer

Problem with American Beautyberry in Houston.
July 02, 2014 - My American Beautyberry is dying one branch at a time. The entire plant looks great, now flowering and starting to put out berries. Then one or two branches will completely die. Trim those off, wi...
view the full question and answer

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