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

Problems with a Cercis (Redbud)
August 25, 2014 - Half of my redbud tree is pooped out looking. On two places on the bark are areas where a few layers of bark have pulled back. In these areas there are white growths.
view the full question and answer

Do all tuliptrees (Liriodendron tulipifera) flower?
June 02, 2009 - Do all tulip trees flower? We planted a baby one about 5 years ago and its grown considerably however it has never flowered. Is that normal? Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of desert willow in Wimberley TX
August 10, 2010 - I have a desert willow. It is always, whether I water it or leave it alone, yellow/ brown leaves, dark spots on the leaves, losing leaves. now it looks sad and not very healthy. Can you please tell m...
view the full question and answer

Tulip trees losing bark in OH
July 11, 2011 - We have two tulip trees in our yard that are losing their bark at the base of the trunk. I am careful with the mower keeping away from the tree when I mow. What could the problem be and what can I d...
view the full question and answer

Re-landscaping in Stephenville, TX.
November 17, 2012 - I prefer native plants. We are re-landsacaping, so I need grass, ground cover, vines and flowers to plant in our back yard. We have many trees and the whole yard is shady. A small area might be con...
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