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

Saturday - April 30, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Transplants, Watering, Drought Tolerant, Trees
Title: Drought tolerant Plants and moving Wax myrtles in Austin
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, What are the most fire resistant and drought tolerant plants for caliche soil in Austin area? I am considering relocating or removing my wax myrtle shrubs because they are within 10' of my garage. Got a good guess on the likelihood they would survive given the drought? They are over 10' tall and about 6' wide. How much would I have to trim them down to make the relocation more survivable?

ANSWER:

   Mr Smarty Plants appreciates your economy.   Two questions for the entry of one! No matter, both questions are very topical for these drought-ridden times.  I’m going to answer them separately though.

  Your local native plants are well situated to be your choices for fire-resistant and drought tolerant plants.  After all, they have developed to thrive in the native state in the weather we get, and this isn’t the first nor the hardest drought that has developed.  So, for a really broad choice, use the Wildflower Center’s “Recommended Species” page and check out the “By Texas Ecoregion” selection in the “Just for Texans” box.  This way you can differentiate the difference between the Edwards Plateau eco-region [to the Northwest side of Austin] versus the Blacklands Prairie region [to the southeast]. 

  Of course, there are other resources where you don’t have to do quite as much choosing.  In a previous answer, it was pointed out that US Fish & Wildlife Service has a  website with recommendations. I also found two commercial websites with good discussions of drought-tolerant plants.  One is on Gardeners.com and the other on the Gardenweb forum.

  Now on to question number 2!   Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) is a Texas native, but is generally found in the counties farther to the east, so it prefers a somewhat moister climate.  It was listed in our data as 6-12 ft. in height, occasionally to 20 feet.  This indicates that your Wax myrtles are pretty mature.  My recommendation is to leave them there; they are about as big as they will get and inasmuch as they are 10 feet from the garage, this is a good distance.

  Relocation would be very traumatic for the Wax myrtles and their chance of surviving in this time of drought is not good, especially for ones as mature as these.  If you really want to move them, the best time is the winter when the tree is as dormant as it will get.  Wax myrtle is an evergreen, so it doesn’t have a clear dormancy like deciduous trees but the winter will be less stressful.  Moving mature trees is a process where you need to be much more careful than for smaller plants.   Here are a collection of three websites that address this process.

How to relocate a tree:

SavATree.com on mature tree transplants

The Homeknowitall.com on mature tree transplants

and Landscaping.com on transplanting.

 

More Trees Questions

Western soapberry dropping leaves in San Antonio
June 03, 2013 - My Western Soapberry tree (China berry?) Suddenly started dropping full, perfectly healthy green, leaf units. Now half the tree is turning yellow. There is a second tree in the yard not far from this ...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping with native plants in Austin
October 06, 2005 - I'm expanding a flower bed in front of my house and would like to keep it all natives. 1) How do I find out what type of soil I should add? (I live near Hyde Park, Austin and haven't had a soil te...
view the full question and answer

Swarming insects on non-native willow in Washington PA
September 25, 2011 - I have had a very large, beautiful pillow willow bush/tree growing next to our garage for about 8 years. Last year at the end of August, it began to attract white-faced hornets and yellow jackets by t...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID of unknown purchased plant from Boise ID
June 24, 2012 - Hi! I bought a tree that the sales person didnt know what it was. I thought it was a cherry tree and now after about 3-4 yrs I know it is but..How do I know if it is an ornamental tree or real fruit t...
view the full question and answer

Problems with a Sherman (Shumard?) Oak from Bixby OK
May 14, 2012 - We have done extensive research on oak fungi/diseases/pests could be affecting our Sherman Oak tree but we are stumped. The leaves are falling off and have some sort of moldy bunch within the leaf it...
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