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?

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
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

Thursday - January 01, 2009

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Plants for winter installation in Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What plants can you plant in the winter, Houston, Texas?

ANSWER:

We're not sure if you're just wanting something to plant right now for the fun of it, or if you are planning an extensive garden, and want to start now. Either way, we can tell you that, in the southern United States, woody plants are best planted in the late fall to late winter. Woody plants are generally shrubs and trees, some evergreen, some deciduous. This is the best time for those plants because they usually have pretty substantial roots, and can be damaged by being dug up and moved; however, in cooler weather, they become somewhat dormant and are therefore more likely to survive without suffering transplant shock. In this part of the country, heat is a bigger enemy of newly-planted material than cold, and the plants need time to establish their roots before the heat begins.

We have a couple of How-To Articles that you might be interested in, and then we'll get down to specific woody plants to plant now. The first is Gardening Timeline, which will give you an idea of what you can most effectively do at various seasons in your garden. A Guide to Native Plant Gardening will help you in your selection of plants. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we are focused on the planting, care for and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Plants native to any area are already accustomed to the climate, amount of moisture and type of soil, thus they will need less water, fertilizer and maintenance than an imported non-native. 

For selecting plants, we will go to our Recommended Species section and click on East Texas on the map. This will get you a list of 133 plants native to and recommended for your area. Not all of these are going to be woody plants, and you probably don't want to wade through reading every plant webpage. So, click on NARROW YOUR SEARCH and select first for "shrubs" under Habit. Then click on the Narrow Your Search box at the bottom of the page. Now you have 23 choices, and we have chosen 4 of our favorites to list for you. You can look at each webpage by clicking on the scientific name for the plant, and find out what type of soil it likes, how much moisture it needs, etc. These plants are all commercially available. When you have looked at these, you can go back to Recommended Species and make your own list, this time selecting also for "Light Requirement", "Duration" and "Soil Moisture" to find plants more suitable to the location you have in mind. 

SHRUBS

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) - 3 to 5 ft. tall, deciduous, striking purple fruit, needs part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day)

Ilex decidua (possumhaw) - deciduous, but female has gorgeous red berries in winter. Dioecious, which means there must be a male of the same species within 30 to 40 ft. in order for the female to grow berries.

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow) - 2 to 3 ft. tall, deciduous, does well in shady situations, bright red flowers from May to November, attracts hummingbirds

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - evergreen, 6 to 12 ft. tall, fragrant foliage, attracts birds but, again, both male and female plants must be present to produce berries.

Next, we'll select some trees, doing the same thing, going to Recommended Species, but this time choosing "Trees" under Habit. This gave us 44 possibilities, of which we are listing 4 examples.

TREES

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud) - 10 to 20 ft., deciduous, blooms pink and purple April and May

Crataegus marshallii (parsley hawthorn) - To 25 ft, deciduous, ornamental foliage, deeply cut, looks like parsley,  white blooms March to May.

Ilex opaca (American holly) - 25 ft., evergreen, dioecious, slow growing, bitter seeds attract birds but can be toxic to humans if ingested

Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia) - evergreen, fragrant large white flowers, may grow 50 to 100 ft. tall, but some smaller cultivars like "Little Gem" are available


Callicarpa americana

Ilex decidua

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Morella cerifera

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Crataegus marshallii

Ilex opaca

Magnolia grandiflora

 

 

 

 


 

More Trees Questions

Christmas decorations on a live oak in Montrose CA
November 18, 2009 - Is it OK to put Christmas lights and decorations on a live oak?
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screening Plant for New York Narrow Site
April 20, 2013 - I need privacy screening on the side of my house in Mount Kisco, New York located 40 miles north of New York City. The area gets plenty of sun but is somewhat narrow. What evergreen bushes or trees ...
view the full question and answer

Cupressaceae dying in Suffolk Co.NY
October 20, 2012 - I have noticed that all of my Cupressaceae (& others I see in my area) are dying. They turn yellow, then rust & brown til they are everbrowns. what is going on?
view the full question and answer

Leaves on 3 year old maple turning brown in Lebo, KS.
July 16, 2011 - Hello, one of our five Maple trees which is is 3 yrs. old now, we saw a week ago that the leaves started turning brown and dropping. My question is: Will the tree survive this and return healthy next ...
view the full question and answer

Possible wilt disease in mountain laurels
August 31, 2006 - Three of about 24 of my mature mountain laurels died suddenly, the leaves turned brown almost overnight, scratching the bark revealed no green tissue, the small branches practically cracked when bent,...
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