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?


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
2 ratings

Sunday - October 30, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: When (and whether) to plant non-native red-tip photinia in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


With the current and forecast drought I'm wondering if the usual rules about when to plant might change. I'd like to plant red-tip photinia.


From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer:

"The first thing we will recommend is that you NOT use red tip photinias.  The red-tip photinia is non-native to North America, originating in the Far East. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are committed to the planting, protection and propagation of plants native to North America. Native plants are recommended because they are adapted to an area's soil, rainfall and climate, so requiring less water, less fertilizer, less maintenance. Here is a quote from a Mississippi State University Extension Service Red-tip Photinia Almost Eliminated

'Red-tip is highly susceptible to the fungal pathogen known as Entomosporium that causes leaf spots and ultimately defoliation. The disease has all but eliminated Red-tip from the list of recommended shrubs for Southern landscapes. In fact, the disease is so widespread that one plant pathologist jokingly explained that there are two types of Red-tip, those that have the disease and those that are going to get it!' "

Hopefully, you will select a native shrub that is more adapted. In terms of when to plant woody plants in Central Texas, nothing about that has changed. It is still better to plant fresh nursery stock in late Fall or Winter, when the plants are semi-dormant and will have less risk of transplant shock. Plants that are native to Central Texas have centuries of experience with hot, dry spells and alkaline, rocky soils. We suggest that you go to our Native Plant Database, use the Combination Search, on Texas, "shrub" under Habit, "dry" under Soil Moisture and other characteristics such as height and bloom you might want. You should be aware that the more specifications you search on, the fewer choices you will get, or perhaps none at all. Here are some native shrub possibilities we would suggest. Each of our suggestions is evergreen or semi-evergreen and grows naturally in Travis County.

Chrysactinia mexicana (Damianita)

Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri (Lindheimer's silktassel)

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)

Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)


From the Image Gallery

Chrysactinia mexicana

Lindheimer's silktassel
Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri

Ilex vomitoria

Leucophyllum frutescens

Mahonia trifoliolata

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Shrubs Questions

Cenizo dropping leaves from Corpus Christi TX
February 20, 2014 - Leucophyllum frutescens:I planted a Texas sage hedge in September of 2012. One of the plants is dropping its leaves. It is situated at the corner of an L-shape at the end of drive and corner of road. ...
view the full question and answer

Need some help with my Mexican Bush Sage in Rockport, TX.
July 07, 2011 - My Mexican bush sage looks leggy,ratty and sparse. It's planted in full sun and was cut back to the ground in early spring. My soil is sand and I've watered it sparingly as we've had no rain. I'm...
view the full question and answer

Removing existing shrubs from Grapevine TX
September 24, 2012 - We just bought a house and we have some shrubs and hedges we want to remove. What is the best way to remove them so that they don't grow back? We have some holly hedges, a very large cedar or juniper...
view the full question and answer

Mountain Laurel suffering from Spring freeze
May 12, 2015 - I have a 4 1/2 ft Texas Mountain Laurel shrub in current location for several years. A hard freeze this spring killed every leaf on the tree, but the stems remained green. My other smaller Mt. Laure...
view the full question and answer

Vines and shrubs for Las Vegas, Nevada
November 17, 2010 - We live in Las Vegas and would like to put some vines up on the walls of our backyard. One wall is full sun, one is partial sun partial shade, and two are all shade. We want something that is non-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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center