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

Is it OK to remove soil around oaks - Austin, TX.
May 24, 2013 - I have several oaks trees (one live oak + burr oaks) from 15'-35' in height. They seem healthy. A local arborist says they were planted too deep and that the soil around them needs to be excavated t...
view the full question and answer

Montana native plants to create a garden with edible plants
January 14, 2013 - Hi Smarty Plants We are looking to create a native herb, vegetable, root, fruit, flower and ground cover garden for the area of Hot Springs, Sanders County, Montana. Our zone is 4 and soil is mostly ...
view the full question and answer

Dogwoods Late in Blooming
May 14, 2015 - We are seeing no evidence of flowers on two dogwoods this year. One usually is in bloom now, the other later on in the spring.
view the full question and answer

Texas Pistachio trees dropping leaves in Austin
June 09, 2010 - I have several Texas Pistachio that are about 13 years old. Despite good rainfall in Travis county this year, they seem to be losing most of their new leaf growth now in early June. Leaves are simpl...
view the full question and answer

Problems with volunteer tree in Joshua TX
February 15, 2012 - I have a 'volunteer' tree which has been in our back yard for about 15 years. It has had the usual traumas, ie. lots of snow, ice, etc. but after last years drought, its bark is coming off and sev...
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