Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
1 rating

Friday - June 24, 2011

From: Grand Rapids , MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Can a madrone be used as a house plant from Grand Rapids MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can a madrone tree be used as a house plant in Michigan? It is about 10" tall in a gal pot. Can a couple of trees be planted together to become one larger house plant? it's currently in a clay mix.

ANSWER:

Actually we have no idea, because we can find no record of it being tried. Let us tell you what we know from our Native Plant Database about the 3 species of the Arbutus genus found in that database.

Beginning with Arbutus xalapensis (Texas madrone), which is native to New Mexico and Texas. This tree grows to 20 to 30 ft, requires full sun to part shade. From our webpage on this tree, here are the Conditions Comments:

"Conditions Comments: One of the most interesting and beautiful native trees of Texas, but temperamental to propagate or grow. Propagation requirements are complex, and it is very difficult to transplant successfully from the wild. In the landscape, it grows best in well-drained areas."

Then, there is Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone), native to California, Oregon and Washington. Needs sun or part shade. It grows 50 to 100 ft., with a spread of 15' to 75'. Here are its Condition Comments:

"Conditions Comments: A. menziesii has been shown to have a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. The fungi enable the madrone to take up nutrients in the soil. Arbutus spp. benefit from wind protection and may need to be trained early to central leaders to offset their tendency toward shrubbiness. A messy tree, A. menziesii is best planted away from well-used areas."

Arbutus arizonica (Arizona madrone) is native to Arizona and New Mexico; its native habitat is high altitude and oak woodlands. It requires full sun and sandy, acid well-drained soils. Pictures

So. if you already have a plant you want to experiment with, now you know what conditions are needed. Clay soil does not drain well, getting sufficient sunlight to a house plant would be a challenge, and disturbing the roots is going to cause problems, like sudden death.

Now you can conduct your own experimental laboratory in this matter, and let us know what happens.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas madrone
Arbutus xalapensis

Texas madrone
Arbutus xalapensis

Texas madrone
Arbutus xalapensis

Texas madrone
Arbutus xalapensis

More Trees Questions

Sappy dew killing plants under oaks in Missouri
September 19, 2008 - There is a sappy dew killing my perennials.I have several large oaks in my yard. I had different kinds of shade perennials around each base of the trees. But as years have gone by, the different varie...
view the full question and answer

Source for Desert Willow from Dallas
October 03, 2011 - I'm looking for a source for chilopsis linearis. I live in Dallas, TX. None of the specialty nurseries in Dallas seem to be able to source it. Is there any local source? Is there any source withi...
view the full question and answer

Propagating a Magnolia tree from a twig cutting in New Hampshire.
November 02, 2011 - I have a twig cutting from a rare magnolia tree I found on a farm in central New Hampshire. The tree seems to be at least one hundred years old. It was in full bloom in late August and I was told by t...
view the full question and answer

Care for oak acorns after planting from Huntsville TX
April 21, 2012 - I planted oak trees from acorns, how often and how much do I water them?
view the full question and answer

What can be planted under a pine tree in Detroit, MI?
April 22, 2008 - What type of plant would you suggest I plant under my big (Blue bruce) pine tree? It's about 25 ft high and the branches are trimmed to about 4 feet up, so it does get some light but mostly shade.I a...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.