Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Thursday - June 28, 2012

From: Socorro, NM
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Trees for Socorro NM
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I recently moved from Austin to Socorro, NM. I want to add 2 shade trees to my hot, dry garden. I am considering Arizona Cypress, Live Oak (Quercus Fusiformis - yes, they are native in NM, as well as TX), and Apache Pine. The garden around the trees will be planted with xeriscape natives. I could use some advise as to which trees (or combo of trees) will be best. Will the roots of the oak be a problem? How long will the AZ Cypress live? Will it need to be replaced after 20 years? Will that Apache pine look scraggly after it reaches maturity? Thanks so much.

ANSWER:

Before we tell you anything, you have to promise not to plant either tree before November at the earliest. Especially in the intense heat that both New Mexico and Texas are experiencing AGAIN this year, you would do well to heed our warning. The greatest reason for death of trees is transplant shock, and the most frequent cause of transplant shock is planting woody plants (trees and shrubs) during hot weather.

This USDA Plant Profile Map shows that Cupressus arizonica (Arizona cypress), while it is not  shown growing natively in Socorro County, it does grow nearby and should be fine. According to this USDA Map, Quercus fusiformis (Escarpment live oak) does not grow natively in New Mexico at all, but we will take your word for it that it will. Pinus engelmannii (Apache pine) is shown on this USDA Map as growing only in the southwestern corner of New Mexico and then on down into Mexico. Pictures of Apache pine,

These are considerations for several reasons: you want to know if the soil, climate and rainfall is going to be okay for the trees to grow where you plant them; planting something native to the conditions they have been accustomed to for centuries will save you a lot of resources, like time, money, water and muscles. Good stock, planted carefully in cool weather will have a decent chance. We don't make the rules, Nature does.

For more information on each tree, scroll down our webpage on that page to Additional Resources, and click on the link to Google on that plant. Since we do not know your terrain, watering situation or size of property you will have to be the judge of where and how to grow them. You should also be aware that the oak roots will spread very far and won't slow down for foundations, pavement or driveways. A little planning ahead can save a world of hurt.

 

From the Image Gallery


Arizona cypress
Hesperocyparis arizonica

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

More Planting Questions

Grouping plants according to water needs
February 05, 2010 - Explain how appropriate design/grouping of plants of the same water needs would make irrigation scheduling easier?
view the full question and answer

When Should Wildflower Seeds be Planted in Dallas, Texas
November 28, 2011 - Mr. Pants: I have received some seed packets of wildflower seeds from GO TEXAN. How late can I plant these in central Dallas (8 a/b)?
view the full question and answer

Plants for 100 gal. pot by pool from Ft. Worth TX
June 23, 2012 - What North Texas evergreen or combination of evergreen plants, bushes or trees could thrive in a huge, 100-gallon clay pot (immovable!) that is situated in full sun year round in an exposed area n...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for September wedding from Licking MO
June 02, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am getting married this September in Licking Missouri back in the woods on my dads land. I would like to have wildflowers for the bouquets and reception decor. Can I get some...
view the full question and answer

Planting wildflowers from Wichita Falls, TX
August 24, 2013 - Hi, Thanks so much for the answers you give! You've been very helpful to me in the past. I have two quick questions: 1) I have been harvesting seeds from my wildflowers. I wonder when the best time...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.