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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.

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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.

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Sunday - September 18, 2011

From: The Woodlands, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Need to find an alternative to Bradford Pear in the Woodlands, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Hello! I am trying to find an alternative tree to a Bradford Pear. I love the seasonal change in these and ordered one, but after the many negative reviews I've read (smell, weakness in branches, messy fruit, suckers..) we've decided to try to find something similar without the negatives. We are looking for a mid- sized tree for a small front yard to shade our front door. Something fairly fast growing would be great. Fall color and/or flowers in the spring would be a definite plus! We live in The Woodlands, Tx. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we encourage the use of native plants, so I am going to refer you to the Native Plant Society of Texas-Houston Chapter who puts out a Native Plant Guide . They have a program called NICE (Natives instead of Common Exotics), and on page 24 of the Guide, there is an extensive list of alternative plants to replace non-natives in your landscape. You’ll see that there is a category for Small Trees and Large Trees, and alternatives for Bradford Pear are listed in both. To learn more about the plants listed, you can go to our Native Plants Database and type the name of the plant in the search box. If the plant is in our Database, its NPIN page will come up that has information about the plant’s characteristics and growth requirements, as well as images. Page 7 of the Native Plant Guide has a list of nativeplant suppliers in the Houston area.

Another useful tool for selecting a tree is the “Texas Tree Planting Guide” from the Texas Forest Service. This guide is interactive and has tips for selecting, planting, and caring for your new tree. Be aware that some of their selections are non-natives however.

 

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