En Español

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
1 rating

Tuesday - October 19, 2010

From: Annapolis, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Magnolia and non-native weeping willow competing in Annapolis
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We planted a sweetbay magnolia next to a Weeping Willow in our yard and did not anticipate the willow would grow so quickly and into the magnolia. We have had the magnolia now for 3 years, and it is close to 13 feet. Is it safe for us to transplant the magnolia to a new location in our yard, and do you have any tips so that we don't lose the beautiful tree?

ANSWER:

Yes, take the weeping willow down. Non-native to the United States, Salix x sepulcralis is a hybrid of a Chinese species (Peking willow) and a European species (white willow), and is said to grow in Zones 5 to 8 in the United States. It is weak-wooded, fast-growing and, therefore, short-lived. It has aggressive roots, can lift sidewalks and interfere with sewer lines, often growing on soil surfaces, making a problem with mowing. It is susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, and notorious for littering the ground beneath it. You might check out this University of Florida Extension website on Weeping Willows for more information as well as this Q&A from North Dakota State University Extension on weeping willows.

Given the choice between a lovely native tree like Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay) and the invasive, non-native weeping willow, we would definitely vote for the magnolia. A 13-ft. tall magnolia would be a challenge to transplant, and you might very well lose it in the process. Then, when the weak, short-lived willow dies, you will have zero trees instead of two. The magnolia will mature to from 12 to 20 ft. in height, and up to 50 ft in the southern part of its range. Since Anne Arundel County is in USDA Hardiness Zone 7a, we feel you could depend on the tree getting taller.

Here are the growing conditions for the Sweetbay Magnolia:

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Rich, moist soils. . Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Acid-based
Conditions Comments: Sweetbay is slow-growing and has no serious disease or insect problems. It is good for a small patio or specimen tree. Prune after blooming during the growing season because dormant magnolias do not easily heal.

If you are determined to go ahead with moving the magnolia, here is an article from University of Tennessee on Transplanting Trees.  Frankly, we would engage a professional, licensed arborist, with proper equipment and manpower, who could have more success with the move. The same goes with removing the willow, as your first priority is to NOT harm your magnolia.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Magnolia virginiana


Magnolia virginiana


Magnolia virginiana

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native astilbe resemblance to non-native poisonous castor bean from Tomslake BC
May 21, 2014 - I have a plant that looks like a castor bean but it has flowers like a Younique Silvery Pink Astilbe. Need to id because castor bean is poisonous. This plant grows up to 5 feet in height. Thank you !
view the full question and answer

How to eliminate roadside thistles
May 26, 2015 - When we drive along the highway we see lots of wildflowers and no thistles in the median. How does the Highway Department keep the thistles out? Here in Kerrville, we are overwhelmed by thistles thi...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Cleyera and Red-tip photinia
June 01, 2008 - I planted a row of Cleyera in a bed that receives sunlight for about 3 hours during the middle of the day. My problem is that a number of the plants are dying. It begins with the leaves on one small...
view the full question and answer

Request for seeds or cuttings for Malvaceae from French Botanical Garden
September 03, 2011 - hello We create a botanical garden devoted to the Malvaceae, can you help us by sending us seeds or cuttings? friendly the director jean-marie Jolicard botanical garden beaulieu 23170 LÚpaud F...
view the full question and answer

Native alternative to Japanese grass from Lake Jackson TX
May 16, 2013 - Is there a native alternative to Little Kitten maiden grass? I was asked to comment on a plan and don't want them to introduce another Japanese plant into our local habitat.
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center