En Español

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
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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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


Damianita
Chrysactinia mexicana

Lindheimer's silktassel
Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Agarita
Mahonia trifoliolata

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Shrubs Questions

Fragrant foundation plants for sunny, dry area in Illinois
August 26, 2009 - We need suggestions of what to plant on the south side of our house heave sun and rather dry soil. We just took out old dead bushes. Would prefer something that flowers and smells nice that would gr...
view the full question and answer

Male and Female Rhus virens Differences?
June 27, 2015 - I would like to plant a Rhus virens in my yard to attract birds. I want to make sure I get a female plant so there will be berries. How can I tell a male from a female plant?
view the full question and answer

Native border plants to stop erosion
February 18, 2015 - I need native border plants to assist in stopping soil erosion due to water run off from rain and the Catawba River.
view the full question and answer

Pruning a mock orange in Charleston WV
March 30, 2009 - How far back and when do I prune a "Mock Orange" in order to get it to bloom?
view the full question and answer

Rust spots on non-native red tip photinia
July 10, 2008 - I live in Oklahoma and my red tips have rust spots on leaves and some plants are losing leaves. This is a clay soil; can you give me any info. on how to solve this problem?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center