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

Friday - May 21, 2010

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: What will grow under a magnolia in Houston?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What will grow under a magnolia tree in Houston? The area is shade and partly sunny.

ANSWER:

From a previous answer   about planting under magnolias:

Magnolias are allelopathic to other plants.  This means that the magnolia produces chemicals that inhibit the germination of seeds and growth of plants that are potential competitors for its resources.  The roots and fallen debris (leaves, flowers, etc.) from the magnolia tree contain substances that limit the growth of other competing species that grow underneath it. In the case of magnolias, the substances are sesquiterpene lactones—costunolide and parthenolide—(see Abdelgalel, A. M. and F. Hasinaga.  2007. "Allelopathic potential of two sesquiterpene lactones from Magnolia grandiflora L." Biochemical Systematics and Ecology Vol. 35, no. 11, pp. 737-742.)  A complicating factor is that many plants won't grow in the dense shade created by the magnolia tree—or any other tree, for that matter.

I could find no list of plants that are resistant to the allelopathic effects of magnolias.  So, my recommendations to you are:  1) keep the debris from the magnolia cleaned up from the area where you want the flowers/plants to grow, and 2) choose native plants that are shade-tolerant. There is no guarantee that these will do well, either. Follow each link to the page on that particular plant to learn about propagation, conditions, expected size, etc. Here are a few recommended shade-tolerant plants that are native to Harris County or a nearby Texas county:

Shrubs for Shade in Houston:

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Hibiscus laevis (halberdleaf rosemallow)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry)

Herbaceous Blooming Plants for Shade in Houston: 

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Salvia coccinea (blood sage)

Podophyllum peltatum (mayapple)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Callicarpa americana

Hibiscus laevis

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Coreopsis lanceolata

Lobelia cardinalis

Salvia coccinea

Podophyllum peltatum

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Transplanting Seedling Texas Mountain Laurels
April 15, 2013 - I have two mountain laurels that I grew from seed. They are in pots, but the roots have grown through the bottom and into my flower bed. The trees are about 6 feet tall. They have already bloomed. So ...
view the full question and answer

Replacement evergreens under power line in Wisconsin
April 11, 2013 - I have to replace evergreen trees in a privacy screen due to borer damage. The screen is below power lines so the replacements cannot be tall. I would like use bird and pollinator friendly replaceme...
view the full question and answer

Plant barrier to block view and noise of Florida Turnpike
August 05, 2009 - I live in Port St Lucie FL and my development backs to Florida turnpike. We want to plant to block noise and view. Any suggestions? thank you
view the full question and answer

A Crabapple for the Austin, TX area.
May 06, 2014 - I am in search of crab apples. Don't they grow in Austin? I can not seem to be able to locate any here. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Problems with rusty blackhaw viburnum in Austin
May 07, 2010 - I have a four foot rusty blackhaw viburnum. Last summer the leaves turned reddish and in the late summer most of them fell off. This February the plant started to leaf out and then bloomed. It has ...
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