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

Plants for north side from Dale TX
February 10, 2012 - What native trees and bushes can I plant on the north side of house? Can I use corn meal( I NEED FIGHT A GRASS) in flowerbed and then plant native wildlife seeds(FLOWERS)?
view the full question and answer

Native Plants for a water collection pit in Bronson, FL
August 22, 2013 - I live near Gainesville, FL in a low rural area with many cypress swamps around & bought this 5 acres 2 years ago. About 15 years ago a pit was dug on my 5 acres to give the rainwater somewhere to go...
view the full question and answer

Texas Mountain Laurel oozing sap in Spicewood, TX.
July 05, 2012 - We have a Texas mountain laurel that seems to be sweating. Oozing sap with no apparent signs of any type of bore holes, or holes made from any birds.
view the full question and answer

What is causing leaf drop on oak in Morgan Hill CA?
June 23, 2010 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants: We have a large, young Valley Oak (about 20 yrs) which is dropping leaves even now in early summer. I have a feeling that the problem might be an invasive weed that is flourishi...
view the full question and answer

Xeriscaping in clay on a slope in Fort Worth
April 06, 2006 - Xeriscaping in clay (Fort Worth) on a slope -- Please offer suggestions and publications. Thanks
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