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
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


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


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

Live oaks lifting up sidewalks in Palm Coast FL
December 12, 2013 - My live oak trees roots are lifting up my side walks. Can I cut just the roots that are causing the problem without hurting the trees? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Protection of live oak trees from covering by concrete patio
February 02, 2008 - I am thinking about pouring a large cement patio around my live oak trees in my yard. I live in Rockport Tx. How far should the edge of the cement be, from the base of the tree? Will the patio kill th...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting native yaupon into yard in Lowake TX
June 08, 2010 - I have lots of wild yaupon in my pasture,can I transplant it to the yard?
view the full question and answer

Privacy screening from Prosperity SC
May 19, 2013 - I need to know what would be a good tree to plant for blocking my neighbor's home it needs to be an evergreen and slender in the space it would take.
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in Mountain Laurel in San Antonio, TX
June 03, 2011 - I planted a 2 ft. tall Texas mountain laurel a month ago. Some of the leaves have turned very yellow and some of them are falling off. The plant doesn't look real healthy in general. I did add s...
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