En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - What will grow under a magnolia in Houston?

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

Need help diagnosing a problem with Bur Oak in Plano, TX
April 28, 2010 - I planted a bur oak 8 or 9 years ago. It has grown beautifully until this year. When opening, the leaves are very small (a couple inches) and there are lots of seeds (catkins?). I would hate to los...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Monterrey Oak in Austin
March 26, 2013 - We had a local tree service plant two Monterrey Oak trees on 4/2/2012. At the time we noticed that woodpeckers had had a field day on the trunk bark of both trees with the most damage being on the lar...
view the full question and answer

Fast growing shade tree for Goldsboro NC
February 04, 2013 - What is a good tree to plant in Goldsboro North Carolina to provide shade and a fast growing tree?
view the full question and answer

Trees safe near walls from Rio Grande City
March 24, 2012 - What trees can be planted near the house that the roots won't break my walls?
view the full question and answer

Looking for yellow bottlebrush (Callistemon sp.) and native substitutes
February 14, 2008 - I have been looking for years for a yellow bottle bush. It is identical to the red but is yellow. there are several varieties, but the one i want is just like the red one in appearance. I live in Flor...
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