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
2 ratings

Thursday - January 29, 2009

From: New Braunfels, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Fast-growing shade tree for New Braunfels, Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I would like to plant a tree in the back of my property which is located in the Hill Country just north of New Braunfels. Could you please suggest something that is fast growing and will grow in full sun and in limestone soil? The tree will be watered at first (for the first few weeks) but will not get any supplemental watering after that. Native trees nearby include ashe juniper, cedar elm, and live oak. Would Texas Sycamore work?


First of all, Platanus occidentalis (American or Texas sycamore) is not really a good choice for your situation since its native habitat tends to be moist bottomlands or sites with readily available water.  Since your site is dry, you would have to do considerable watering to get a sycamore established. I can suggest some other trees, both fast-growing and with moderate growth.  Any of the trees listed below will also require some watering at first to become established.


Fraxinus berlandieriana (Mexican ash) to 30 ft.

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash) 50-75 ft.

Fraxinus texensis (Texas ash) 30-45 ft.

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) 15-30 ft.

Ulmus americana (American elm) 72-100 ft.

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) up to 20 ft. and evergreen.

Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak) to 100 ft.


Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) 12-25 ft. and evergreen.

Ulmus crassifolia (cedar elm) 50-70 ft.

Quercus muehlenbergii (chinkapin oak) 40-60 ft.

Acer grandidentatum (bigtooth maple) 10-15 ft.

Fraxinus berlandieriana

Fraxinus pennsylvanica

Fraxinus texensis

Chilopsis linearis

Ulmus americana

Morella cerifera

Quercus macrocarpa

Ilex vomitoria

Ulmus crassifolia

Quercus muehlenbergii

Acer grandidentatum



More Shade Tolerant Questions

Identifying native sedges
October 14, 2013 - What's the best way to identify a specific sedge ?
view the full question and answer

Oak leaf hydrangeas from Edwardsville IL
August 13, 2012 - Hello, I live in West Central Illinois (across the river from St. Louis) and I am considering planting several Oak leaf Hydrangea's in my yard. The location where I would like to plant them is und...
view the full question and answer

Plants for Shady Clay soil in Illinois
June 18, 2012 - Could you recommoned native plants for clay soil and shade near Chicago?
view the full question and answer

Native perennials for moist shade in Missouri
January 16, 2005 - I live near Adrian, Mo (s of KC by an hour). I currently have a small hillside that is covered by trees and shaded all day and also seems to hold moisture really well. The hill seems to grow a littl...
view the full question and answer

Ornamental grasses under desert willows from Dallas, TX
September 06, 2013 - I am planning on planting 3 desert willows in full sun, below the power lines at the back of my back yard in the White Rock Lake area of Dallas. I would like to plant some ornamental grasses in the be...
view the full question and answer

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