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

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 Trees Questions

Care of Styphnolobium affine, Eves necklace
October 05, 2007 - I have an 18 yr old Eve's Necklace tree that is dying from the "bottom up". It has only a few leaves at the very top of the tree. I have, connected to the gutter, a rain barrel from which the exc...
view the full question and answer

Watering oaks in Houston, TX.
June 07, 2011 - Our yard (Real County, TX.) has many oak trees. We never water these trees, but I wonder if you recommend watering during this extreme drought. The trees look very stressed and are covered in ball m...
view the full question and answer

Feeding live oak and redbud trees from Fredericksburg TX
October 23, 2012 - Can you please tell me what to feed my live oak and texas redbud trees that survived the drought? We have granite soil.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen for inland San Diego, California
November 28, 2009 - I'm looking for an evergreen tree for my inland San Diego residence, 30 foot max height, growth speed is not important. I had decided on the carrotwood until I found your site and discovered the prob...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of newly planted magnolia in Irving TX
November 10, 2009 - I planted four Little Gem Magnolia (Magnolia Grandiflora) in my back yard during first week of October 2009. One of them seem to be dying because its leaves have turned very brown and the leaves are c...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center