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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - April 28, 2012

From: Cedar Grove, NJ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Fast growing, flowering shade tree for Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Sister just moved to Austin Texas. She is looking for fast growing shade trees, preferably one with nice flowers. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

First, you have to promise not to let her purchase or plant the tree until November or December. Something she needs to learn about Texas is that our summers can be brutal, dry and hot. We recommend that woody plants (trees and shrubs) be planted in Winter, when they are semi-dormant. Otherwise, you are risking transplant shock, which probably kills more trees and shrubs than disease or insects.

Second, native trees of Texas that are flowering are not generally very tall, although they would make some shade, but they can be very attractive in a landscape. The flowers of tall shade trees like oaks and pecans are icky tassels of green stuff that lots of people are allergic to.

Third, fast-growing trees are often short-lived and prone to disease that can shorten their lives even more.

Having said all that, we will list some trees that grow naturally in Travis County, and you can follow the plant links to our webpage on each tree to learn its projected size, see pictures of flowers and conditions in which they will grow.

Trees For Travis County, TX:

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)

Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow)

Fraxinus texensis (Texas ash)

Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum)

Quercus fusiformis (Escarpment live oak)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Texas ash
Fraxinus albicans

Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Trees Questions

Can a fallen tree in Texas have pieces of it removed from Winona TX
October 20, 2012 - I was wondering if you could tell me if a tree has fallen down, is it legal for me to go and cut pieces off of it in the state of Texas. And if you happen not to know could you tell me who I would con...
view the full question and answer

Freeze-damaged Texas Mountain Laurel in Austin, TX.
May 05, 2011 - I have a Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) that is several years old. During this past winter, one of the freezes we had split one of the largest trunk right below the soil line. T...
view the full question and answer

Cedar elm with brown leaves
August 12, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We feel we may have limited time to save our beautiful Ceder Elm. We have many trees in our yard (Post Oaks and Cedar Elms) and have been told they are all between 50 - 75 year...
view the full question and answer

Small flowering tree for Huntingdon Beach, CA
November 07, 2008 - I am looking for a short approx. 10 foot tall tree to plant in the 2 corners of my backyard near a wall. I would like them to be thin approx. 5 feet wide where light can get through so my other plant...
view the full question and answer

Should a mustang grape be left near live oak in Austin?
July 17, 2009 - I recently removed a huge mass of jasmine from a clump of live oaks. Inside I found a very large (12' long) exposed root of a mustang grape. I'd like to trim it back to the original clump and reta...
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