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?

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
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

Friday - May 25, 2012

From: Tucson, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Shade trees for Tucson AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I need to plant some "fast growing" trees or shrubs on my southwest yard in order to reduce the heat in my bedroom. What do you suggest? I live in Tucson, Arizona. Thank you in advance. I'm melting,

ANSWER:

You need to realize that even "fast growing" plants are going to take several years to do any good. Lots of people think that putting in plants is cheaper, or even free when they are looking for some sort of sound or light barrier. However, if you consider the cost of the plant (which has the cost of growing it for several years and transportation factored in), the cost for planting (money to a landscaper, liniment for your back), watering, fertilizing, fighting off pests, etc. you might find something quicker will not be as expensive as you first thought. We will, of course, recommend some trees and shrubs, which will grow to a good height, and be more dense to provide shade, all native to Pima County.

But since you are melting now, and we recommend that you wait at least until November through January to plant woody plants, you might want to consider some alternatives. If you go ahead and plant the shrubs or trees now, in Arizona, you can almost expect them to experience transplant shock and die, or at least  be severely slowed in their growth. Blinds or lined drapes inside, and/or a trellis outside, close to the window, with a fast-growing vine can be good interim or permanent solutions. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn about growing conditions, sunlight tolerance, water needs, projected heights, etc. This search turned out to be quite a challenge, there were no shrubs that were native to Pima County. In fact, this was also a problem with the selection of trees; the ones that were native to Arizona just couldn't seem to get down to the southern border of Arizona with Mexico. Those drapes are looking better all the time.

Plants for a sunscreen in Arizona:

Acacia farnesiana (Huisache)

Acer glabrum var. neomexicanum (New mexico maple)

Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber (Birch-leaf mountain-mahogany)

Juniperus deppeana (Alligator juniper)

Olneya tesota (Desert ironwood)

 

From the Image Gallery


New mexico maple
Acer glabrum var. neomexicanum

Smooth mountain mahogany
Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber

Desert ironwood
Olneya tesota

Huisache
Acacia farnesiana

Alligator juniper
Juniperus deppeana

More Shrubs Questions

Need a shrub to conceal a privacy fence in Knightdale, NC.
August 03, 2011 - Could you recommend a medium-sized shrub/bush (max height of 6-7 feet) to plant along a privacy fence (purpose is to conceal the fence from the street view per HOA)? I live in Zone 8.
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of Tecoma stans in Austin
August 02, 2008 - We Planted a Yellow Esperanza shrub 2 years ago that was blooming when we purchased it. It bloomed very little last year and not at all this year. It looks very healthy and each year gets about 10 f...
view the full question and answer

Removal of previously-planted perennials
July 23, 2008 - HI I JUST MOVED INTO A NEW HOUSE THIS YEAR THE PREVIOUS OWNERS PLANTED A LOT OF BEAUTIFUL PERENNIALS BUT I WANTED TO PLANT OVER ONE OF THE PERENNIALS THAT I REALLY DO NOT CARE FOR. IS THAT POSSIBLE? I...
view the full question and answer

Germination of Sophora seeds, and Dodder identification in Kingsland, TX.
May 02, 2012 - Our Mt. Laurel has just produced seeds. Can those be scarified and planted now or do they have to dry out. Also what is the stringy orange substance that gets on bluebonnets and other wildflowers ...
view the full question and answer

Sunny and shady lawns from Austin
April 28, 2012 - My front yard has a large bed surrounded by a mix of St. Augustine and Bermuda grass. Last summers heat killed off about 90% of the St. Augustine, which we would like to replace anyway to conserve re...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center