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

Replacement for trees destroyed by Hurricane Ike
March 28, 2009 - We had a 23 year old elm tree in our front yard that was uprooted from Hurricane Ike (about 50 feet tall)..can you tell us what the replacement costs for that would be? Also we had a 20 foot live oak ...
view the full question and answer

Shade trees for Tucson AZ
May 25, 2012 - I need to plant some "fast growing" trees or shrubs on my southwest yard in order to reduce the heat in my bedroom. What do you suggest? I live in Tucson, Arizona. Thank you in advance. I'm...
view the full question and answer

Opinion of 5 best native garden plants in Oklahoma from Burneyville OK
September 07, 2013 - What would you say are the 3 to 5 BEST native garden plants for south central Oklahoma?
view the full question and answer

Landscaping a Fence with Native Plants for Central Texas
March 08, 2013 - I'm looking to landscape my fence that I've lined with woven bamboo. The area gets the hot afternoon sun in summer and is pretty shady in winter. The plants need to be drought and heat tolerant. I'...
view the full question and answer

Defining drip line on trees from Austin
August 08, 2011 - When you say that trees should be watered at the "drip line," do you mean that literally? I assume that the drip line means at the outside edge of the leaves or branches. Does that mean that waterin...
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