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?


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

Thursday - April 07, 2011

From: Hutto, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Planting a non-native rose on oak tree in Hutto TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I would like to consider planting an earth-kind climbing rose on the south side of my 12 ft oak tree. Is this a good idea? Will I create problems?


We are not sure what you mean by an "earth-kind" rose. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends only plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow natively. We need to point out that there is no such thing as a true "climbing" rose, in the terms of an ivy or honeysuckle that either has stick-tights or winding tendrils to help the vines grow. Rose have stiff canes, and to make them go up, they need to be tied to some sort of trellis or support. We don't know how this would work trying to take it up an oak tree. In the winter, roses being deciduous, you would just have long bare canes tied to a tree with no leaves, kind of pitiful.

Most roses need a good quantity of sunlight to fuel their blooms. We consider full sun to be 6 or more hours of sun a day, part shade 2 to 6 hours of sun, and shade less than 2 hours of sun a day.There are other factors besides heavy shade that might be causing problems in getting plants to stay alive, including the fact that oak roots tend to be in the upper 12 inches of the soil, and form a mat that would be discouraging to other plant roots. In addition, there is the question of allelopathy. From the University of California Cooperative Extension article Landscape Notes by James Downer, Farm Advisor, we have extracted this paragraph about the allelopathy of oaks:

"Various studies have demonstrated that oaks can have allelopathic affects on surrounding plants. Allelopathy is the production of plant inhibiting chemicals by one plant to regulate the growth of others in its vicinity. One important group of chemicals produced by oaks is tannins. They are produced in leaves and litter and also directly by root systems in soil. Tannins are inhibitory to many organisms. Salicylic acid and other organic acids are also produced by oaks and are toxic to other plants. Allelopathy is species specific for the oak in question and the species that is inhibited."

So, you get our drift-not many roses are native to North America, most are from China. The oak is not going to like having that rose under it, and the rose is not going to like having the shade of the oak. However, we will give you some roses native to Texas to look at; there is nothing to keep you from trying it if you want to. There are 9 members of the Rosa genus native to Texas, but only 2 seem to have the possibility of surviving in Williamson County. These are going to be "wild" roses, and it's unlikely you will find them in a nursery.

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose) - low, freely suckering rose, 1 to 3 ft. tall

Rosa setigera (Climbing prairie rose) - has canes 6 to 15 ft. long, which classify it as a climbing rose; it is mostly found growing on fences in East Texas.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Rosa carolina

Rosa setigera




More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native Callistemon damaged by freeze in Katy TX
March 30, 2010 - O.K. Smarty pants, Callistemon bought here in Houston Texas froze and will they recover after the freeze? The huge tree is totally brown and about five years old. Do we cut them back or do the leaves ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native weeping willow in Greenville NY
September 10, 2009 - We live on the border of Zones 5b and 6a and have a weeping willow that grew so much in only 3 years and did quite well. However, there are aerial roots growing on its bark as well as part of the bark...
view the full question and answer

Non-native ixora full of weeds in Miami FL
July 29, 2011 - My Ixoras are full of weeds look like some kind of berry. Is there a way to get rid of them?
view the full question and answer

Trees for shade in Austin
May 20, 2012 - I live in Austin and I am looking for a good tree to plant under a large live oak I have in my backyard. Something slow-growing of course and, the garden only gets late day sun for about an hour. Filt...
view the full question and answer

Non-native, invasive, poisonous Chinese yam
October 16, 2005 - I found a vine in my yard [central Indiana] which I believe is Dioscorea oppositiflora and I wanted first to confirm my identification and second to find out about edibility [especially of the airborn...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center