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
3 ratings

Thursday - March 18, 2010

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Trees
Title: Freeze damage to my Norfolk Island Pine in Houston, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Houston, Texas experienced a rare 3-day snow event this winter that allowed snow to stay on my 20 ft. Norfolk Pine, in the ground for over 10 yrs. Every branch is now brown with all dead foliage. I have been told to never "top" a tree. Do I have any options to improve the appearance and save this tree? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks that you and your plant have been lucky for over ten years, but your luck just ran out this winter. The Norfolk Pine, aka Norfolk Island Pine (Auracaria heterophylla), is native to a small island in the South Pacific about 900 miles east of Australia. (A lot of people think that they are from Norfolk, Virginia.) As a tropical plant, it is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 10-11;  Houston is in zone 9. It is quite often grown indoors as a potted plant.

You can determine if the branches are dead by using the "scratch test"; scratch a small area of the branch with your thumb nail to remove the bark, if there is no green tissue, you can conclude that the branch is dead. Repeat the process with the stem.The Floridata site suggests that suckers may grow from the root system even if the stem is dead.

This gardening site provides over 65 comments in a Q&A format about problems with Norfolk Island Pine trees.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the focus of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the use, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America, but to the area in which the plant is being grown.

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Smarty Plants on arborvitaes
March 28, 2005 - Hello, I live in Allentown, PA and have a 7-foot arborvitae shrub in my backyard, planted in the corner of the yard where a wood fence intersects with the brick wall of the garage. I have had ma...
view the full question and answer

Hypoxylon Canker removal in Austin TX
March 26, 2012 - I have several oaks that appear to have been killed by Hypoxylon atropunctatum from last summer's drought. Is it safe to cut them down in March or does that risk spreading Oak Wilt too. Should I ...
view the full question and answer

Decorative Trees for Scenic Bench in Fairhope IL
June 10, 2012 - I am looking for a recommendation for a pair of small trees (does not grow taller than 18-20 feet) that can provide shade on either side of a stone bench. The site is in full sun, western exposure an...
view the full question and answer

Looking for a redbud sized tree to plant in Tulsa OK.
September 27, 2011 - I am looking for a native tree about the size of a redbud to place in my prairie bed in Tulsa Oklahoma, wildlife friendly trees preferred, thanks!
view the full question and answer

Native trees for small backyard in California
May 28, 2008 - I have a small backyard and very close to my neighbor. I want to plant trees that grow 15/20 high that can work as a screen although I have to be very careful with invasive roots. Also I have two sma...
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