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

Wednesday - September 01, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Trees
Title: What about Asian Jasmine and scrub oaks?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have several clusters of native scrub oaks in my yard. I planted Asian jasmine under them many years ago. The trees look fine, but an arborist has told me that the Asian jasmine is suffocating them, like when you put too much soil around them. So, what should I have put underneath the trees? Is it best to leave the area under them bare soil? In nature, they can have understory plants including vines underneath them. So, why is the jasmine not good? Is the vine just too thick? Thanks for your thoughts!

ANSWER:

Lets start with the Jasmine part of the question. Asian Jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum)  is an evergreen ground cover for sun and shade. As its name suggests, it is non-native although it is widely used by landscapers because of its vigorous growth once it becomes established. This agressive growth can become a problem when it invades flower beds, climbs trees and shrubs, and even grows into houses. This link to Dave's garden has some comments from both admirers and detractors of the plant.

I think your arborist's concern may be about the competition between the oaks and the jasmine. The jasmine is competing with the oak tree for water, minerals, and oxygen. As the jasmine becomes more dense, it can deprive the oaks feeder roots near the surface of crucial oxygen, thus "suffocating" the trees. The oak trees have roots that extend out to the drip line and beyond; if the jasmine bed doesn't extend that far, the problem is lessened.

So what are the alternatives to Asian Jasmine and bare soil? One possibility is to mulch under the trees with decorative mulch, or do hardscaping with flag stones and gravel. To find plants to use in this situation, go to our Native Plants Database and scroll down to Recommended Species and click on the Cenreal Texas portion of the map. This will bring up a list of 155 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Central Texas. Clicking on the name of each plant will take you to its NPIN page that describes the plant and tells about its growth characteristics and requirements. Next go to the Narrow Your Search box and make these selections: Select Texas under State, Herb under General Appearance, and Perrenial under Lifespan. Check Part shade under Light Requirement, Moist under Soil Moisture, and click the Narrow Your Search button. Your list has been narrowed down to 14 species. You can alter your list by repeating the process and making differet selections e.g. choose Shrub instead of Herb under General Appearance etc. This answer to a previous question similar to yours provides some possibilities for plants under oak trees.

 

More Trees Questions

Need information about pruning Persimmon trees in Buda, TX.
November 29, 2010 - Mr. Smarty, We have many wild persimmon trees in our yard. Some I want prune to bush size. What is the best way to prune these trees and to what extent can they be safely pruned. Thank you for shari...
view the full question and answer

Mystery tree with yellow fruit in MN
November 12, 2012 - There is a tree at my workplace, about 8' tall, with small, pea-sized yellow berries right now (Oct. 2012). The berries are attractive to Cedar Waxwings, and the tree has small leaves that are simple...
view the full question and answer

Flying insects eating leaves of non-native Brugmansia in Aline CA
October 17, 2013 - I have an Angel Trumpet tree. We live in Aline, California 30 miles east of San Diego. Little yellow and black flying bugs eat the leaves. Do you have a remedy for this problem.
view the full question and answer

Growth rate of the American beech tree from West Hartford CT
May 25, 2010 - What is the growth rate of an American beech tree?
view the full question and answer

Removal of live oaks leaves on lawn in Austin
October 11, 2011 - We have about a half inch or so of mostly live oak leaves still on the ground which I thought was good root protection and also holds in moisture. There is a small group of people in our condo subdi...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center