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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - October 05, 2008

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Small, slow-growing native tree for Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Can you please recommend a pretty, small, slow growing tree for my bed centerpiece? It gets some sun/partial shade in front of my Houston area north facing home and must survive heat and some drought conditions.


Indeed, we found several to recommend. In a search for evergreen habit, we selected a couple that could be shrubs, or be pruned up to be small trees. Doing so, we found three evergreen, three deciduous, but all should be relatively slow-growing and make a nice centerpiece for your garden. These are all native to the Houston area, and can tolerate partial shade. We found them by going to the Recommended Species section of our website, selecting East Texas on the map, and narrowed our search by selecting on tree for Habit, and partial shade (2 to 6 hours of sunlight) for Light Requirement. Follow the links below to the webpages with descriptions, or make your own selections. When you are ready to plant (and late Fall is the best time in your part of Texas), go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape consultants in your general area.

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud) - deciduous, with very early blooms and heart-shaped leaves

Chionanthus virginicus (white fringetree) - deciduous, late starter in Spring, showers of white flowers appearing before or with the first leaves

Crataegus marshallii (parsley hawthorn) - deciduous, interesting parsley-shaped leaves

Ilex opaca (American holly) - evergreen, must have both male and female present to have berries, very slow-growing, shrub to be pruned up to tree shape

Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay) - evergreen in South, fragrant flowers borne over a long period

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - evergreen, fragrant foliage, attracts birds, shrub trimmed up to small tree

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Chionanthus virginicus

Crataegus marshallii

Ilex opaca

Magnolia virginiana

Morella cerifera




More Trees Questions

Sprouts from stems of plants from Happy Yard IN
September 28, 2013 - Is it normal for a plant to start a sprout from its own root system next to the stock/stem? Is it trying to regrow?
view the full question and answer

Identification of a tree at David Crockett Cabin Museum in Tennessee
October 22, 2012 - I was in Lawrenceburg TN and stopped by the David Crockett Cabin Museum. There was a tree and it dropped lemon sized balls on the ground. What kind of tree is it?
view the full question and answer

ID of insects attacking a Mexican Plum in Austin, TX
May 11, 2015 - I live in south austin and have a young 6' tall mexican plum. For the third year in a row it is getting eaten by small green 'leaf-rolling' worms. The destruction the past 2 years was so bad there ...
view the full question and answer

Moving a large red horse chestnut tree in Jackson MI
April 20, 2012 - I have a red horse chestnut that is maybe 12 inches around, can I move it after the sap goes down about 10 miles to our new place? Sadly, I cannot afford to hire a tree truck. What are its chances?
view the full question and answer

Smoketree not flowering in Beverly Hills CA
June 29, 2011 - Why is my Smoke tree not flowering? It is big and the leaves are beautiful but no blooms.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center