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
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

Are mountain laurel beans safe to use as rattles with small children?
September 19, 2012 - Is it safe to use the mountain laurel mescalbean pods as shakers or rattles, as long as the pods are not open and the seeds left unexposed? If a small child (very small, who has no way to open the ...
view the full question and answer

I need a tall tree with kind roots for a narrow space
March 11, 2009 - We have a space in the yard where a building is within 3 to 6 feet of where we would like a tall tree. What tree could achieve two stories in height, while not messing with the foundation of the bu...
view the full question and answer

Positioning a bald cypress among cattails in Silver Spring MD
April 30, 2009 - We have a rain garden, half of which is fairly overrun with broad- and narrow-leaf cattails. We've learned to be aggressive in thinning these out 2 to 3 times during the growing season. We also have ...
view the full question and answer

Trees for a privacy barrier
October 06, 2007 - What would you suggest to plant for a privacy barrier along a back fence in Austin Texas? They need to be hardy and atleast 10 to 12 feet tall to block my neighbor's second story view of my yard.
view the full question and answer

Split trunk in Bald Cypress in Uhland, TX
May 31, 2009 - I live just south of Austin, and near the pond (stock tank) is a bald cypress, young, about 12-15 yrs., and after this past year, drought and all, I was dismayed to find it not leafing out. When I in...
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