Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 24, 2010

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Trees
Title: Small tree for container near pool in Houston
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Can you recommend a small tree that I can grow in a pot for shade? Looking for minimal mess because it will be near the pool. How big should the pot be?

ANSWER:

First of all, you should read our How to Article, Container Gardening with Native Plants.  This article gives you information about proper potting mixture, container type and size, maintenance and more.  You might also like to read "Trees in Pots" by Marty Ross from Flower and Garden Magazine, August-September, 1995.

Now for trees that you might grow in a container—I am guessing that you want something evergreen.  Here are a few evergreens that can grow into small trees for the Houston area:

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) grows up to 20 feet high.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) grows usually to about 25 feet.

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) grows 15 to 36 feet high.

Vaccinium arboreum (farkleberry) is almost evergreen and grows 12 to 15 feet high. The leaves turn red in the fall. 

Here are a few small deciduous trees that would do well in Houston:

Ilex decidua (possumhaw) grows 15 to 30 feets tall.

Frangula caroliniana (Carolina buckthorn) can reach 20 feet.

Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum) grows 15 to 35 feet.

Cornus drummondii (roughleaf dogwood) grows to 16 feet.

All of the above trees produce berries that are attractive to birds.  Three of them—Morella cerifera, Ilex vomitoria and Ilex decidua have two types of trees—those with male flowers and those with female flowers.  Only the trees with female flowers will produce fruit.  The other five trees have both male and female flowers on the same tree and are all capable of producing berries.  So, if you are worried about the mess the berries might make, you can ask the nursery where you buy the tree if they can guarantee that you are getting a male tree of one of the three named above.  You can visit our National Suppliers Directory to look for nurseries that specialize in native plants in the Houston area.  

You can see other choices on the Texas—East Recommended page.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option and choose 'Trees' or 'Shrubs' from the GENERAL APPEARANCE category.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Morella cerifera

Ilex vomitoria

Prunus caroliniana

Vaccinium arboreum

Ilex decidua

Frangula caroliniana

Prunus mexicana

Cornus drummondii

 

 

More Container Gardens Questions

Growing bluebonnets in pot in Flower Mound TX
November 01, 2011 - We received a package of bluebonnet seeds along with the DVD Wildflowers: Seeds of History as a gift. In the film, Andrea DeLong mentions that bluebonnets did not grow well in a rich organic soil. W...
view the full question and answer

Pill bugs in potted plants in Atlanta GA
June 14, 2013 - Hello, I repotted four aloe vera plants two days ago with a cacti soil and watered them thoroughly in terra cotta pots according to directions on the bag. Well the next morning the pots had pill bug...
view the full question and answer

Placement of lemon cypress tree in Miami, FL
May 25, 2008 - Where is the best place to have a lemon cypress tree? indoors or out? Presently in south Miami climate, Scott's potting soil, clay pot, with good drainage.
view the full question and answer

Growing Texas wildflowers indoors for a March wedding from Austin
October 01, 2013 - I have learned so much from this site! Thank you! I am getting Married this March and I am hoping to use Texas wildflowers for the centerpieces. I hope to grow them in containers indoors and have the ...
view the full question and answer

Plants in wheelbarrow dying in Jacksonville, FL
June 22, 2011 - I planted a wheelbarrow with daisies, petunias and black and blue salvia. the salvia is thriving, but the others died. Is the salvia toxic to them?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.