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

Thursday - April 15, 2010

From: Spring, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Replacement for pygmy date palms in Spring, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We live in Spring, Texas and the front door of our house faces East. Last winter we lost both of our beautiful pigmy date palms! We are trying to find "unique" accent plants for our front entry. Do you have suggestions? We would like something that can take the cold but is beautiful! Thank you!

ANSWER:

When you say your house faces East, that doesn't give us a clear idea of how much sun or shade you have there. If there are larger trees in front of the house, you may have less than full sun, which we regard as 6 or more hours of sun a day. Part shade is 2 to 6 hours, and shade is less than 2 hours. Since the Phoenix roebelenii, Pygmy Date Palm, will grow from sun to shade, we will try to choose plants that are the same. The Pygmy Date Palm is hardy from USDA Hardiness Zones 9a to 11, and is native to Southeast Asia. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we are dedicated to the use, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. The ones that fit that description are probably not as exotic and unique as you would like, but they belong here, which is environmentally important. 

Even though Spring is in Zone 9a, you apparently had harsh enough temperatures to do the plant in. We cannot promise we can find a native plant that is as exotic and as much of an accent as the plants that you lost, but we will try to find some plants that will be attractive and do well in the same spot. We will check to make sure that all our choices are native in or near Harris County, so we can know they are adaptable to the climate, soils and rainfall. Follow each plant link to our page on that plant in our Native Plant Database for more information on height, growing conditions and so forth.

Shrubs for Accent Plants in Spring TX:

Yucca treculeana (Don Quixote's lace) -has prickly points, like the Pygmy Palms, and may grow out of the size you have available for it.

Erythrina herbacea (redcardinal) - fairly exotic-looking, but the bright red seeds are toxic; probably shouldn't plant it if there are children or pets that might try to snack on them.

Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto) - fairly similar to the palm you lost. 

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) - can bloom 12 months a year, depending on the rain, is evergreen, and the pinkish-purple  blooms are stunning against the blue-green foliage.

Ilex opaca (American holly) - this gets pretty big, but is a built-in Christmas decoration.

From the Native Plant Image Gallery:


Yucca treculeana

Erythrina herbacea

Sabal minor

Leucophyllum frutescens

Ilex opaca

 

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Is Viburnum opulus var. americana (Viburnum trilobum) Self-fertile?
April 02, 2014 - I am trying to attract birds to my Chicago area yard and I believe I have good conditions to grow highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum). My question is about the need for cross pollination. The liter...
view the full question and answer

Native holly (ilex) for Austin area
May 28, 2006 - Hi--my brother and his family live in Austin, TX--their german shepard "Holly" just died (she was 13)--I was throwing around the idea of sending them a holly plant of some sort to have in honor of H...
view the full question and answer

Winter- and drought-resistant plant for North Central Texas
April 11, 2012 - I would like to know is there a good winter and drought resistant flowering bush for my area. I would like something with bigger flowers like azaleas or roses maybe bigger, that will not grow anymore...
view the full question and answer

Hedge plantings for Flower Mound, TX
March 14, 2011 - Need to cover ~ 1000 linear feet with a thick hedge plant that will be ~ 8-15 ft tall, 8-12ft wide, fast growing, evergreen, drought resistant. Live in Flower Mound Tx. Researching on Red tip Photinia...
view the full question and answer

Pests on American Beautyberry from Austin
June 25, 2012 - Something is eating the leaves of my American Beautyberry shrubs. One is almost stripped of leaves on the upper branches. I have looked and can't see any insects or caterpillars. I have also looke...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center