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

Sunday - May 08, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Protecting base of Texas Madrone tree in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

3 years ago, I successfully transplanted a 1-gallon Texas Madrone on the north side of an Ashe Juniper. The Madrone is thriving but the juniper, which has been a great "nurse", is dying. I am looking for suggestions for plants that will shade the base of the Madrone. I'm thinking I need plants that grow fairly rapidly; so far only Morella cerifera has come to mind. I welcome your suggestions.

ANSWER:

By coincidence, this particular member of the Mr. Smarty Plants team was touring some people around the Wildflower Center this week and observed one of the Arbutus xalapensis (Texas madrone) on-site at the Center. Because we had your question in mind, we looked it over to see what was there. Actually, there was nothing directly shading its base, which happened to be in full sun when we were there. However, it was in a corner of a wooden fence, with some low-growing perennials fairly close by, and more trees a little farther. This was a mature tree, and gorgeous, with the red bark and a curving trunk, so you are probably right that your smaller tree still needs some protection.

Then, on the Wildflower Center Garden Tour, we were greeting people at a property on the Tour that had madrone trees down in a canyon at the base of a slope. The advice from the owner of that property was "don't do a thing." Madrones don't like any disturbance, are difficult to propagate from seed and resistant to being transplanted. The madrones in the second place had come up voluntarily from seed. One of the Center horticulturists said to just leave the framework of the cedar for as long as possible, that would cast some shade, and not cause any meddling with the madrone.

And, finally, we all agreed that planting a wax myrtle there would not be the best idea. A wax myrtle is a fine, evergreen plant, but requires more water than the madrone. Having excess water in the vicinity might affect the madrone negatively and, again, digging a hole to plant a shrub of any kind would be dangerous for the madrone roots.

For more information, here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on propagation of the madrone.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Arbutus xalapensis


Arbutus xalapensis


Arbutus xalapensis


Arbutus xalapensis

 

 

More Trees Questions

Why is my 3 year old Redbud not flowering in San Marcos, TX?
March 24, 2010 - My Cercis canadensis var. mexicana, purchased at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, is 3 years old, very robust, but has never bloomed. Any explanation?
view the full question and answer

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

Tree Recommendations for Hutto, TX
September 28, 2014 - I live in Hutto, TX. I want shade trees in my back yard. I would like a fast growing tree as well as a slower growing tree. What trees are recommended for my area?
view the full question and answer

Rock under space for Bigtooth Maple in San Antonio
May 20, 2013 - I just got a 10 gallon Bigtooth Maple in Medina TX for my home outside loop 1604 in San Antonio. I hit rock about 7 inches in when trying to plant it..I am entertaining the idea for a raised bed to le...
view the full question and answer

Sweet cherry tree for New Mexico
January 23, 2013 - What is the best kind of sweet cherry tree to plant in Santa Fe, NM? I have apple, apricot, peach and pear. Would like cherry unless it is a bad idea.
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center