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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - September 23, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Small, attractive tree to replace redbud
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi. We have a dying redbud (approx 9 yrs old) in our west facing front yard. It gets lots of sun, and plenty of water from our irrigation system. We think the issue is a vertical split in the trunk, possible caused by wind damage. We would like to replace it and aren't sure what to replace it with. We already have large mature live oaks, and really are looking for something small and pretty, just in between our driveway and our neighbors. It really is the right size and shape for our space, but I've heard that redbuds aren't very hearty on long-living and that we should consider something else. We would like it to be pretty year-round, and something we can hang lights in at the holidays (we have small kids)!. Suggestions?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is sorry about your Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud).  They are beautiful, but they do typically have a short lifespan (10-20 years).  Here are a few suggestions for a replacement:

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel), evergreen and can reach 30 feet, but slow growing

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon), evergreen, up to 25 feet and retains red berries through the winter

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry), evergreen with attractive white flowers

Ptelea trifoliata (common hoptree), deciduous, up to 15 feet, interesting seeds

Ungnadia speciosa (Mexican buckeye), deciduous, up to 30 feet, pink flowers in spring

Frangula caroliniana (Carolina buckthorn), deciduous, up to 20 feet, red berries during winter

Cornus drummondii (roughleaf dogwood) , deciduous, showy white flowers. red berries in the fall


Sophora secundiflora

Ilex vomitoria

Prunus caroliniana

Ptelea trifoliata

Ungnadia speciosa

Frangula caroliniana

Cornus drummondii

 

 

 

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