En Español

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

Wednesday - July 11, 2007

From: Pensacola, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Juniperus virginiana and some pines for Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Pensacola, FL (Northwest Florida, practically lower-coastal Alabama) and I am looking for a medium size tree that will cast shade on my home. The house faces due west and it gets extremely hot in the summer. I understand that deciduous is the way to go for landscape use with the purpose of energy efficiency (shade in summer; sun in winter). I have a relatively small front yard (approx. 60'x 50') with little landscaping (except for the recently planted Savannah hollies and wax myrtles). I want to provide food and shelter for the birds, and am particularly fond of Christmas-like trees (but Spruces and Firs are not found around here; did I mention I live in Florida?) Will the Ashe Juniper do pretty well in my region? I like all of its characteristics and could even decorate it during the holidays. My 2nd choice would be the Eastern Red Cedar, but all publications that I have read indicate it is a columnar tree (and that brings to mind the straight-and-narrow pencil shaped tree). I'd prefer to have a full, dense, broad to spreading shape tree. Would either of these trees require any amendments to my existing sandy, acidic soil? Would it be advantageous to purchase a relatively mature tree (older than 3 years) or stick with a sapling? Also, it has been unusually dry lately in my area (we usually have humid, rainy summers), so if this weather pattern persists, will the trees survive the drought? I apologize for the overwhelming amount of questions, but I know you are a reputable, respectable source, and am open to your suggestions. Thanks.

ANSWER:

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) should do fine in your area. Its shape is not always columnar and can be quite variable as you can see by the photos in our Image Gallery. Young trees of Eastern redcedar are usually more pyramidal than columnar. Juniperus ashei (Ashe's juniper) is not really a good option, though, since it isn't native to your area. However, since you are fond of Christmas trees, there are several pine trees that are native to Escambia County, Florida: Pinus clausa (sand pine), Pinus echinata (shortleaf pine), Pinus elliottii (slash pine), Pinus glabra (spruce pine), Pinus palustris (longleaf pine), and Pinus taeda (loblolly pine).

Price and availability will likely be the deciding factor for the size of tree you purchase. Most pine trees grow rapidly so a smaller size might be fine if you choose one of them.

No matter what size or what weather conditions, a newly planted tree is going to require regular, thorough watering for two or three months after you put it in place until it grows new roots to replace those damaged by the installation. The best tree-planting time of the year in your area is late fall and early winter.

Here are links for pictures of P. clausa, P. elliottii, and P. glabra.

 


Juniperus virginiana

Pinus echinata

Pinus palustris

Pinus taeda

 

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Roots in foundation of home in Audubon NJ
February 17, 2012 - I live in an old house (almost 90 years old), and within the past year I have noticed in one area the concrete basement floor breaking. Today I finally made time to investigate. In these old houses ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for clay soil in Leavenworth IN
October 02, 2009 - I live in south central Indiana; the soil is very bad clay, either hard as a rock or mud. I have made several raised beds but am still having problems with plants rotting. What types of plants work he...
view the full question and answer

Time to Plant Trees and Shrubs in the Dallas Area
February 13, 2015 - Is it OK to plant evergreen shrubs-trees in January or February in the Dallas, Texas area?
view the full question and answer

Will the sea water from Hurricane Ike residually affect Galveston's soil
December 06, 2009 - Most of the trees on Galveston Island died following Hurricane Ike, apparently as a result of the sea water that covered the island. Will the sea water that soaked the soil have a residual effect on...
view the full question and answer

Fruit trees non-toxic to dogs that will grow in Killeen TX
April 15, 2010 - I live in Central Texas and I'd like to know if there is any fruit tree that is non toxic to dogs that will grow well in my area. My dog eats everything in sight. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center