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

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

Trees suited for rocky, caliche soil of Central Texas
September 20, 2011 - I need to replace aging ashes. I have planted 2 Monterey oaks, but I would like to know what else I could plant whose roots will grow well in NW Austin caliche, rocky soil? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Viability of Desert Willow in clay soil in Fredericksburg, TX
November 25, 2005 - I have recently purchased a house in a new subdivision in Fredericksburg, TX. The lot was not landscaped. I have a small lot (85 X 135), my back yard is about 50 X 85. The soil is a heavy clay. I am c...
view the full question and answer

White ash trees with bunched up leaves from Nevada TX
June 09, 2012 - I have very young white ash trees (3' tall planted this winter) The leaves are crippled not opening up bunched up together and have a white powder. Is this aphids mites or what. Only on one tree. Th...
view the full question and answer

Why so many Sugar Hackberry seedlings in my back yard in The Woodlands, TX?
May 25, 2013 - Why do I have so many Sugar Hackberry seedlings (Celtis Laevigata) sprouting up naturally in my back yard? There are a few Winged Elms in my neighborhood, but no Sugar Hackberry trees that I know of....
view the full question and answer

Young oak tree with dead branches
April 10, 2009 - I purchased my home new a year ago and we have three young oak trees that came with the house. Two of the trees are doing great and their new leaves have grown in. One tree however still has dead le...
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