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
2 ratings

Thursday - May 29, 2008

From: Houston, , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Seasonal Tasks, Trees
Title: Will a Norfolk pine survive winter in Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

If I transplant a Norfolk pine in the summer, or when is the best time, will it survive the winter growing in Houston Tx? Can you give me some suggestions for fast growing vines facing the front of my house (western exposure). Will clematis work?

ANSWER:

The Norfolk Pine (not actually a pine) is endemic to Norfolk Island, a small island in the Pacific Ocean between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. As such, it is way out of the range of expertise of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which specializes in the care and propagation of plants native to North America. We did find a Floridata website on Araucaria heterophylla that has some information that might be useful to you. The ordinary hardiness zone for this plant is Zone 10-11 and it will begin to sustain damage at 40 deg F. The Houston hardiness zone is 9a; however, it is noted that it is grown outdoors in Florida in protected micro-climates throughout Zone 9. A south-facing wall, in direct sunlight in the winter, with perhaps a flanking wall for more protection from the wind, would constitute a micro-climate of sorts. If you are willing to experiment, you could certainly try to grow the tree in Houston. As to when to transplant, since it is a native of the Southern Hemisphere, we could not find any information on when to plant this tree outside. So, we're going to suggest planting it in the Fall, when the worst of the heat is past, to give it time to accustom itself to the conditions before the chances of cold weather approaching. And, again, it will have several months to brace itself for the Houston summers.

On your second question, vines for a western exposure on your house in Houston, here are a few possibilities, most tolerant of sun to part shade, and all native to Texas.

Clematis pitcheri (bluebill) - perennial, but dies to ground in the Fall.

Bignonia capreolata (crossvine) - usually evergreen, climbs by tendrils, attracts hummingbirds.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) - climbs by tendrils, deciduous, poisonous berries.

Passiflora incarnata (purple passionflower) - herbaceous perennial, climbs with axillary tendrils or sprawls, needs part shade.

 

From the Image Gallery


Purple leatherflower
Clematis pitcheri

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Purple passionflower
Passiflora incarnata

More Non-Natives Questions

Could ammonia harm poisonous, non-native oleander in Bay Point CA
December 20, 2009 - Could ammonia harm my Oleander plant? I have been spraying ammonia under it to keep neighborhood cats from using the soil under the plant as a sand box. If so, do you have any suggestions as to what...
view the full question and answer

Care of desert willows
September 10, 2007 - We have three desert willows. Two are doing well, but the third, which was planted at the same time as the others, is about 1/3 the size of the other two, the foliage is thin, and the leaves have dry...
view the full question and answer

Are Texas Sage plants being harmed by nearby Rosemary.
June 08, 2015 - For 6+ years I've been growing Rosemary shrubs interspersed with Texas Sage. For the past two years the Texas Sage has been looking sickly and have not produced any flowers and the Rosemary is becom...
view the full question and answer

Non-native strawberry tree dying in Mt. View CA
August 01, 2010 - My strawberry tree has brown leaves and is dying, what can I do?
view the full question and answer

Waxy deposits on Magnolia fuscata from Ethel LA
June 18, 2013 - I have a 4yr old Magnolia Fascata (aka banana shrub)- I noticed that it has small oval shaped yellow waxy deposits on the branches.. I have also noticed small black ants on the branches. The unknown d...
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