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

Live oak trees dropping leaves in clumps
December 08, 2009 - We have several large mature Live Oak trees in our Austin TX neighborhood. Now that the rains have come back and the acorns are falling, two of our four trees are also dropping large amounts of leave...
view the full question and answer

Newly planted nuttall oaks from Houston TX
November 16, 2012 - I recently purchased two Nuttall Oak Trees in Houston Texas (October). They are both 15' or taller. I planted them within 24 hours of being delivered, watered them in, staked them, and within 3-4 d...
view the full question and answer

Small tree for Huntingdon Beach, CA
November 09, 2008 - I have the exact same question as a previous tree question from Huntington Beach California. When I click on the answer it brings up another question. I would like to know the answer given for the 10 ...
view the full question and answer

Restoring disturbed land in Marshall, TX.
December 04, 2014 - I have a 30 acre tract of land in Marshall, Texas. The oil company has turned 2-3 acres surrounding the rig into gravel. I would like to return the gravel area to green space. Any suggestions on gras...
view the full question and answer

Bird-attracting trees in Marble Falls TX
May 24, 2010 - What fruiting trees/shrubs other than red mulberry are good to attract native birds (and for bird watching opportunities)? We'd prefer native species, but does white mulberry attract as many bird sp...
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