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
1 rating

Thursday - March 22, 2012

From: Fredericksburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Shrubs
Title: Mountain laurel planting over Frederickburg limestone
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson


We have rocky limestone shelves on our property. We want to plant a mountain laurel. Are the roots strong enough to break through the limestone or should we try to find another location? The limestone is about 14-16 inches under regular soil.


Mr Smarty Plants thinks your chances of the Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) rooting and thriving over a limestone shelf are pretty good.  The plant record has that "It is drought-tolerant, prefers rocky limestone soil, and is native from Central Texas west to New Mexico and south to San Luis Potosi in Mexico."  Even in shelves, the limestone tends to have cracks, holes or separations and the Texas mountain laurel roots are adapted to find and penetrate these opportunities.    14-16 inches of soil is quite a bit when compared the pure rocky soil of the Hill Country where they are known to thrive.  This write-up in a Aggie Horticulture record has similar comments.

  To that end, here are previous Mr Smarty Plants answers where Mountain laurel was recommended for a shrub in Frederickburg and as a candidate as a screen plant in Comfort.

I'd give it a try!


From the Image Gallery

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Planting Questions

Problems with chile pequin from Pflugerville TX
July 19, 2012 - Hello there! I have a question about my chile pequin (Capsicum annuum L.) plant. I purchased it last year from the Wildflower Center Fall Plant Sale. It stayed in a pot until three months ago when I p...
view the full question and answer

Gardening book for beginner gardener
December 06, 2008 - What is a good gardening book for a beginner gardener who lives in Round Rock. Would like info for both vegetables and plants for landscaping. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Transplanting mature guavaberry in St. Croix
January 22, 2010 - I live on the island of St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands and I have a Guavaberry tree that is about 25 to 30 years old, between 15 to 20 feet tall and about 6 feet wide that I would like ...
view the full question and answer

Digging wild buttercup from roadside in Mechanicsville MD
May 28, 2012 - Mr. Smarty Plants, is it illegal to dig out wild buttercup in Maryland? I see them along the dirt road or just in the ditch. Since buttercup considered weed, I'm wondering what the law say about this...
view the full question and answer

pruning crape myrtle (ugh, non-native)
March 05, 2012 - We would like to plant a Dynamite Crape myrtle in front of our front window. They grow 20' to 30'. Can I trim it each year to about 15' to 20'? Should we plant it approximately 5 feet from the ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center