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 - March 12, 2008

From: Estero, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Transplants, Trees
Title: Viability of Texas Mountain Laurel in Florida
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants While visiting Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale we saw a beautiful Texas Mountain Laurel tree. What are the chances of this surviving in the Ft. Myers, Florida area. Either in the ground or in a pot on the patio? Thanks you for your help. MER

ANSWER:

Frankly, we're amazed it's growing in Scottsdale. Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) is native only to a few counties in Southwest Texas and portions of New Mexico. It is a member of the Fabaceae (Pea) family. We looked at this website on Pinnacle Peak Park, hoping to get some information on how the Texas mountain-laurel came to be there. However, the plant was not listed as one of the native plants along the trail. Moutain laurel is readily available, at least around here, as small, seed-propagated plants. It is a very slow-growing plant, so one of display size would probably have to be dug in the wild, balled and burlapped and moved that way. Unfortunately, this is very difficult with this particular plant, and they often go into shock and die. However, as we began to do more research on this plant, we discovered that people not only in Texas were raising it, but some from other areas including California and Taiwan. Most were in agreement that starting them from seed was the best way, but that it was very slow, and you could wait months or even years to get sprouts.

In this Texas A&M University Cooperative Extension article by Dr. William C. Welch, he discusses the various ways of propagating the plant, particularly planting seeds in pots. He also says that it normally is found in the dryer soils of West Texas, but sometimes can be grown in East Texas if the soil is well-drained. Whether that would translate to growing in Ft. Myers, we couldn't say. The best we could find out, the average annual rainfall in Ft. Myers is about 40 inches. That's a whole lot of water for a plant that you saw growing in Scottsdale, where the average annual rainfall is 7 inches, and is now blooming in Austin which has an average annual rainfall of 32 inches, when we're really lucky! Most of the mountain laurels that occur naturally are farther west of here, in even more arid areas. Their natural habitat is dry rocky soil.

So, if you really want to try this out, as an experiment, we would suggest you obtain some seeds and plant a bunch in pots that are pretty deep. And be patient. Then, when some begin to sprout, transplant them quickly to bigger pots, because the bigger they get, the harder they are going to be to successfully transplant. They grow slowly, as we said before, so possibly you could enjoy it for a long time before it got too big for a reasonably sized pot. And they bloom in their own good time; maybe waiting years to show a couple of blossoms, or covering themselves with them in the Spring.

The Florida Native Plant Society has an excellent website on "Natives to Grow in Lee County." They listed Sophora tomentosa (yellow necklacepod), also a member of the Fabaceae family, as growing in your area. This University of Florida Cooperative Extension website will give you more information on this plant, and here is a page of pictures of the Sophora tomentosa. Granted, it's not the same, and flowers are yellow instead of blue, but it might be a whole lot more successful.


Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

 

 

More Trees Questions

Christmas decorations on a live oak in Montrose CA
November 18, 2009 - Is it OK to put Christmas lights and decorations on a live oak?
view the full question and answer

Oak leaf hydrangeas from Edwardsville IL
August 13, 2012 - Hello, I live in West Central Illinois (across the river from St. Louis) and I am considering planting several Oak leaf Hydrangea's in my yard. The location where I would like to plant them is und...
view the full question and answer

Need help with a misshapen Monterey Oak in Austin, TX
March 11, 2010 - In the Fall of 2008, I purchased a very tall Monterey Oak from TreeFolks at the Burger Center Sale. Since the wind was so high, all the tall trees were on the ground, and I guess that is why I did no...
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

Taproot tree to replace willows by pool
June 23, 2008 - Installing Pool with bomanite decking all around it. We're in process of cutting down 18 year old Weeping Willow due to root invasiveness and small messy leaves. Can you recommend a good shade tree w...
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