En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
7 ratings

Friday - January 25, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Fruit trees for South Austin.
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in South, South Austin, just a pinch West of 35 near 1626. I would like to plant some fruit trees in the back yard. Anyone will sell fruit trees, but they don't always grow. What fruiting variety would be good for my area soil (some clay, lots of limestone chunks and a bit of sand). I don't want to just plant them and watch them die or not produce fruit. I am looking toward dwarf varieties if possible. Also, how many do I need to plant to get good pollination. Thanks, Julie

ANSWER:

There are several native (or "wild") fruit trees that will do well in Austin (e.g., Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum) and Prunus rivularis (creek plum)). However, I am going to guess that you are interested in cultivated plums, peaches, figs, apricots, etc. These are all cultivars of introduced non-native trees. For instance, Prunus persica (peach), probably originated in China and then was introduced to the Mediterranean before being brought to North America. Since our focus and expertise here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is with plants native to North America, we can't really be much help choosing cultivated fruit trees. A good resource for finding information about gardens and orchards is the Travis County Texas Cooperative Extension Service. Their web site gives a telephone number. You could contact them to see if they have a list of recommended varieties of fruit trees for Austin. Additionally, their Central Texas Horticulture page has information on Gardens & Orchards as well as Landscaping & Lawns and Ornamental Plants, to name a few.

Don't rule out the native fruit trees, however. The fruits of Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum), for instance, are small but delicious and make a very tasty jam. Additionally, they have beautiful spring blossoms. The ripe Diospyros virginiana (common persimmon) fruits are also delicious. There are other native plants that have edible fruits. If you would like to learn more about them, you can find a very good discussion in Delena Tull's Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest.

 


Prunus mexicana

Prunus rivularis

Diospyros virginiana
 

More Trees Questions

Shrub that will grow outside in Zone 5 from Millbrook NY
April 21, 2012 - Is there any shrub, tree or other sort of plant that will grow well in zone 5 in a very large container outdoors?
view the full question and answer

Non-flowering mimosas in Texas
July 08, 2008 - I have two mimosa trees, about 3 years old. Both were grown from volunteer seedlings. Neither have flowers nor have they produced seed pods. Are they too young or do they need a source of pollenation...
view the full question and answer

Differences between smooth bark and rough bark Arizona cypress
March 12, 2008 - What is the difference between smooth bark Arizona Cypress and rough bark Arizona Cypress in terms of tree growth, form, foliage, etc.? Will one grow better than the other in the Waco area?
view the full question and answer

Problem with baldcypress tree
May 27, 2011 - Two of my three 20 year old Bald Cypress trees appear to have leafed out but are now brown in parts of the tree. The brown area is at the tops of the trees which are probably 40 ft. high. They were...
view the full question and answer

Pacific dogwood not fruiting
September 30, 2009 - We have a beautiful Pacific Dogwood in front of our balcony. In some years it has fruit (berries) but has not for the past two years. When it does, it becomes a magnet for Northern Flickers. Is the pr...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center