En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Preservation of a non-native Norfolk pine after hurricane damage

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

Saturday - October 11, 2008

From: Pearland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Preservation of a non-native Norfolk pine after hurricane damage
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I had a 25ft. Norfolk pine blow down during hurricane. I have the top 6ft.in water living after 3 weeks. Can I plant this hoping it will survive? Do I need to cut into the trunk or just trim back the branches about three ft. up and plant

ANSWER:

No, sorry, nice try, but basically what you have done is the same thing as buying a live Christmas tree, and putting it in a stand with a water reservoir. For a while, the water will travel up into the tree to keep the branches fresh, but eventually, it will die, because it has no roots. And it's not going to grow roots from a portion of the trunk. Woody plants are often propagated by taking cuttings, dipping them into hormone powder, and rooting in soil or even water. But it's a slow process, and the cuttings need to be taken in a certain way from a certain portion  of a branch, and certainly not all of them "take" and produce new plants. It just doesn't work when the cutting is a broken-off trunk from the top of the tree and, commercially, Norfolk pines are usually propagated from seed. If, however, the roots were not pulled completely out of the ground, you can cut the trunk off at the ground and possibly force some new suckers. They will be a long time developing and growing into a decent-sized tree, but that's about your only hope for that particular tree.

From this article by Floridata on Araucaria heterophylla, we found this information:

"In Florida most specimens are less than 50 ft  tall as they are the among the first to be blown away in a hurricane."

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we focus on the use and propagation of plants native to North America and to the area in which they are being grown, because they will need less water, fertilizer and maintenance, and because they are adapted to the weather. This is not to say that a native tree will not be blown down by a hurricane, they will, course, but something chosen for the Houston area that is more sturdy has a better chance of survival. The Norfolk Pine is not a pine at all, and is native to tropical areas of the Southern Hemisphere. It is only viable in USDA hardiness Zones 10-11 in North America; a temperature drop to 40 deg. will do some significant damage. Most of the Norfolk pines sold in retail nurseries are intended as houseplants or for decorative uses at Christmas. 

If you would like to replace your tree with one with a better survivability chance, go to our Recommended Species section, select East Texas on the map, Narrow Your Search by selecting Tree for "Habit" and indicating the amount of sun you have under "Light Requirement" and the moisture of your soil.  We selected Sun (6 or more hours of sun a day), and Moist soil. When we did this, we got ten possibilities, of which we have chosen four to suggest. These trees are all sturdy and deciduous; read all about each in the linked webpage. You can make your own selections in the same way and, having done so, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in your town and state, and you will get the names and contact information on native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape consultants in your immediate area.

Acer rubrum (red maple)

Quercus alba (white oak)

Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak)

Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) - a favorite of ours, and, in appearance, somewhat similar to the Norfolk Pine


Acer rubrum

Acer rubrum

Quercus alba

Quercus alba

Quercus macrocarpa

Quercus macrocarpa

Taxodium distichum

Taxodium distichum

 

 

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Caring for non-native Peace Lily
July 04, 2005 - I have given my closet plant too much miracle gro and the leaves are drooping really bad. What do I need to do?
view the full question and answer

Doodlebugs in dead area of Coral Bean from Houston
April 10, 2013 - I have a Firemans coralbean tree about 5 years old. I discovered yesterday in the middle of the tree there is some deadwood where we have pruned out branches. A couple of the branches were filled with...
view the full question and answer

Trailing perennial plants for High Wycombe, England
April 19, 2008 - Hello Mr Smarty Plants, I would like to know what trailing plants are also perennial, preferably flowering ones but that also look pretty when not in flower? My kitchen looks out onto a five foot h...
view the full question and answer

Application of sprays to non-native Crape Myrtle from Prosper TX
June 29, 2012 - Can applying a systemic insecticide/fungicide combo prevent or limit Crape Myrtle blooms? I have 5 large lavender Crapes that are not blooming or budding yet and this is the first time I have used a ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for southwest side of house in Birmingham, AL
April 18, 2009 - I would like to know what I can plant on the southwest side of my house where there is a brick foundation and is really hot in the summer. I've tried irises and day lilies-not good. Suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center