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

Sunday - July 04, 2010

From: Bulverde, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Planting, Transplants, Trees
Title: Amendments for faster-growing trees from Bulverde TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What faster growing trees will grow in black gumbo clay that is about 12 inches deep above caliche rock in full sun with a sprinkler system set on 1 inch/week? How many and how much amendments such as lava sand, compost, Superthrive, Thrive, molasses should be added to a hole for a 15 gal tree? For faster growth is it better to plant a smaller tree in clay?

ANSWER:

None of the above. Well, that is not absolutely true, however, as we do like compost worked into a hole, especially where there is clay soil, before a tree is planted in it.

However, all that other stuff sounds like you have been asking the same question of too many people, and taking each at his/her word. The whole point in planting a tree native not only to North America, but to the area in which it is to be grown, is that the tree's forbears will have adapted over millennia to growing in the soil, rainfall and climate they get, without reference to any outside additives.

In terms of faster growing, you need to realize that the speed with which any plant grows has much more to do with genetics than with any external influences. Fast-growing trees are not nearly as good an idea as you think they are. Most fast-growing trees will not live very long, and can be susceptible to insects and diseases more so than the ones growing at a more moderate pace.

So, we have three suggestions about planting the tree:

(1) Don't plant it until late Fall or Winter. No woody plant should be subjected to transplanting in the heat of Central Texas Summer, and don't purchase the tree until you are ready to plant it. 

(2) Be sure you are digging a big enough hole, so that a minimum of roots will have to be damaged in transplanting, and have the hole ready before you take the tree out of its nursery wrappings.

(3) Put some compost in the hole and mix it in with the native dirt. The tree will have to learn to put its roots out into the soil around it, but the compost will help with drainage (always a problem with clay soil) and also help the little rootlets access nutrients in the soil. 

We are going to suggest a few trees native to the area in and around Comal County. These will be moderate-growers and should do well for you. Follow each plant link to learn about projected size, light requirements and so forth. All of these include limestone-based or clay soils in their Growing Conditions section. We only listed one oak, Bur Oak, because while Comal County is definitely in the area for oak wilt, the Bur Oak is a white oak, much less susceptible to the fungus and rarely dies of oak wilt. 

Trees for Comal County, Texas:

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow)

Fraxinus texensis (Texas ash)

Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak)

Ulmus crassifolia (cedar elm)

Ungnadia speciosa (Mexican buckeye)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Chilopsis linearis

Fraxinus texensis

Quercus macrocarpa

Ulmus crassifolia

Ungnadia speciosa

 

 

 

 

More Transplants Questions

Planting Texas Mountain Laurel to transplant to Dallas
August 29, 2012 - My daughter would like to incorporate a tree planting ceremony in her wedding in Texas. The seedling would be planted in a pot for a few years and later transplanted in a yard when they buy a home. Wo...
view the full question and answer

When to transplant volunteer Cedar Elms in Cedar Park, TX?
October 11, 2012 - We have a number of volunteer cedar elms we would like to transplant. When is the best time to do this? Should they be potted first and later transplanted or transplanted immediately? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Cherokee sedge in Spicewood, TX
May 18, 2009 - I have several Cherokee sedges, just planted in March. Three of them are doing fine, but the rest look like they're dying. Some are right next to one that is doing great. Any ideas?
view the full question and answer

Why is my Mountain Laurel in distress?
November 26, 2008 - We have planted our 2nd Texas Mountain Laurel in the same spot (after fresh berm built with sandy loam) and it is not looking good in less than 2 weeks. We have an identical berm on the other end of...
view the full question and answer

Recently planted live oak tree in Boerne, TX
February 07, 2009 - My brother planted a live oak in August. It was from a nursery and had a root ball. It looks dead but I keep watering it. The trunk is about 6 inches around. The leaves died but when the winds came th...
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