En EspaÑol

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

Monday - October 26, 2009

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Will lilacs survive in Houston?
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

My wife loves the smell of Lilacs (we're originally from Oregon), but we don't see any here in Houston. Is it possible to get lilacs to survive in Southeast Texas?

ANSWER:

 
The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes.
 
So even if lilacs could survive in Houston (they suffer badly from powdery mildew and drop their leaves when summer is hot and humid even as far north as Philadelphia), we would recommend you not plant them.  Even though they are not native to North America, they are ubiquitous in the northern states and Canada and their fragrance evokes the memory of the begining of summer to all Northerners. But the north is where they belong and where they should stay.
 
Lady Bird lamented "Why can't Texas look like Texas?" long before every town had a Wal-Mart, Home Depot and identical restaurant chains. As a fellow northern transplant, I understand why you would want to have a familiar friend in your garden, but I encourage you to get to know and embrace the many very special native Texas plants that will thirve in this climate, which can be quite harsh.
 
Although nothing can mimic a lilac's fragrance,  you might try Texas' own purple flowering, overwhelmingly fragrant harbinger of spring ... Texas Mountain Laurel.  It is native to the Hilll Country and not the Houston area so it is drought tolerant and requires good drainage.  If you decide to plant one, make sure it is sited with good drainage on a berm or in another raised area.
 
 
 
 

More Trees Questions

Tree with taproot for Jodhpur India
July 05, 2013 - I am a resident of India. I need information of a tree with tap roots to grow in my backyard. We have moderate to hot climate here. It needs to be as small as possible due to lack of space. It'd be g...
view the full question and answer

Growth in oak tree in San Antonio
April 05, 2011 - We have a very large gorgeous oak tree in our backyard here in San Antonio, Texas. I noticed a thickness high up in the tree. Thinking it was a nest of some sort, I used binoculars and saw a parasiti...
view the full question and answer

Protecting a new patio from oak roots
September 01, 2008 - Hello, I have just formed up for a new patio. I have a Live Oak tree about 2' away from the patio. It has a trunk diameter of about 10", I believe 20-25 years old. Problem: I have 2 large roots in ...
view the full question and answer

Bald cypress trees for yard in Mackinaw IL
September 14, 2010 - We are looking at planting a few bald cypress trees in our front yard. I have heard of the extensive root system that these trees have and wonder how far away from a septic system and the house found...
view the full question and answer

Plants for 100 gal. pot by pool from Ft. Worth TX
June 23, 2012 - What North Texas evergreen — or combination of evergreen plants, bushes or trees — could thrive in a huge, 100-gallon clay pot (immovable!) that is situated in full sun year round in an exposed area n...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center