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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - April 10, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs, Trees
Title: Problems with native palms in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We had a large variety of California fan palms and blue sabal palms in our yard that were damaged during the last freeze. We found that several of them now have "spear pull," which means we could pull out the core. What do you suggest as how to treat them, also, any suggestions as to a more hardy but tall palm that we can plant in Austin? Also,any way to keep a tall palm from freezing next time?

ANSWER:

Please read this previous answer on Washingtonia filifera (California fan palm, as well as following the plant link on that and the Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto). Somewhat to our surprise, both of these plants are native to North America. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and propagaton of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants are being grown.  This USDA Plant Profile map shows that the California fan palm does not grow natively in Texas at all, while this map shows that the blue sabal palm does grow in Travis County.

As we have no personal experience with palms, we went to the International Palm Society which apparently has some excellent information but requires a membership to access it. We did find information from Floridata on the Washingtonia filifera that we hope will help. Another article from Floridata on the blue sable palm also has some helpful information.

On your final question about palms that won't freeze in Austin, we suggest you do some research on "cold hardy palms"  but we think you should remember that Florida cold is not the same as Texas cold, and that palms are more a South Texas, southern California and south Florida plant.

 

From the Image Gallery


California fan palm
Washingtonia filifera

California fan palm
Washingtonia filifera

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

More Trees Questions

Care in planting native Shumard oaks
April 16, 2008 - I am going to plant 3 shumard red oaks on the west side of my property. The land is basically rocky. What should I put in the holes to help the tree grow?
view the full question and answer

Should I top my scraggly magnolia tree? No
January 27, 2010 - Mr.Smarty Plants, I live in Crockett,Tx. My husband and I just bought this house. In the front yard I have a very tall,scraggly magnolia tree due to trees growing up around it. We have cut some of tho...
view the full question and answer

Precautions regarding pruning live oaks in the Austin area.
October 27, 2015 - Is it still recommended that we clean pruning shears and spray wounds when pruning live oaks in the Austin area?
view the full question and answer

Problem with Quercus texana (Nuttall oak) in Alabama
March 12, 2014 - I have a 3" diameter Nuttall Oak that the builder planted when building the house. Last summer I noticed that several spots on the trunk were oozing sap (vertical approximately 1.5" long by 0.5" wi...
view the full question and answer

Pecan tree for Johnson City TN
September 10, 2009 - I live in E. Tennessee and was wondering if there are any pecan trees that can be grown here? If so, which type? I am a native Texan and love pecans. I would appreciate any information you can give ...
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