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Wednesday - March 19, 2008

From: Prairieville, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Transplants, Trees
Title: Viability of Texas Mountain Laurel in Louisiana
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I just returned from a visit to Austin and I saw the Texas Mountain Laurel everywhere. I live in the Baton Rouge, LA area and would like to know if performing some soil amendments would allow me to grow this plant in my yard. I have excellent drainage and plenty of sun where I'd like to plant a couple. Any chance of survival here. Thank you. Marc

ANSWER:

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) is really popular during its bloom period, which is now in Austin. In fact, we just answered a question about whether this plant would grow in Florida, please see this previous question. Honestly, we are not trying to discourage the use of some of our beautiful native Texas plants in other parts of the country. But we have to point out that it is only native to portions of Southeast New Mexico and Southwest Texas. Some of this is in the Chihuahuan Desert, which has elevations of 1000 to 5000 ft. The mid range of those elevations is called the "shrub desert" or the Oak-Juniper-Pinyon Woodlands on the slopes and valleys where Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) clings to the rock cliffs in the shade of peaks, in areas where some water might collect. The average annual rainfall of the Chihuahuan Desert is about 12 inches or less. This is not to say it cannot be grown anywhere else, and has been naturalized in areas of Arizona and Texas that are more borderline desert climate.

East Baton Rouge Parish, in the lower part of the "L" of Louisiana is a humid, subtropical climate, with long hot, wet summers. It is north by several counties of the Gulf Coast, and the average annual rainfall is 55 inches. As we advised the gardener in our previous question: experimenting with this, using seed and transplanting, is worth a try. However, consider this: the Texas Mountain Laurel requires full sun, which means that if you have it in a pot for good drainage, it will still have to sit outside in an unroofed area. How many years are you willing to haul larger and larger pots in and out to keep heavy rains from drowning your plant? Another point against the Mountain Laurel in any residential landscape is that the seeds and flowers of this plant are highly poisonous, so if you have children or pets that can come in contact with it, it could be dangerous. And, finally, what you saw blooming gloriously in Austin is now fading away to grayish blooms which will soon be completely gone, the bloom time being February and March.

 





 

 

 

 

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