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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - August 29, 2012

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Seeds and Seeding, Transplants, Shrubs
Title: Planting Texas Mountain Laurel to transplant to Dallas
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My daughter would like to incorporate a tree planting ceremony in her wedding in Texas. The seedling would be planted in a pot for a few years and later transplanted in a yard when they buy a home. Would you recommend the Texas Mountain Laurel? If not, what would you recommend. She lives in Dallas.

ANSWER:

According to the USDA Plant Profile Map the Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) is not a plant that grows naturally in North Central Texas. The closest it is shown growing natively is Travis County, where Austin is. That would indicate to us that the soils and climate are not totally hospitable to this plant. If you follow the plant link above to our webpage on that plant, especially pay attention to the Propagation Instructions, from which we extracted this information:

"Because it is impossible to dig up the entire root, the plant often goes into shock and dies."

So, it's a lovely idea, and perhaps some sort of ceremonial planting in a decorative container could be done, even just planting a seed, or several seeds, just to make sure one takes root. But it would probably be better to let it live out its life in the container, so it could be moved wherever and given appropriate soil in the pot. According to our webpage, here are its growing conditions that could be observed in a container plant. See our How-To Article on Container Gardening with Native Plants.

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Dry, rocky, well-drained, preferably calcareous soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay
Conditions Comments: Needs good drainage."

You would need to use a cactus/succulent potting mix, perhaps adding some decomposed granite to up the alkaline content in the soil and contribute to good drainage. You didn't say when the wedding was scheduled, but this shrub blooms purple in February and March. Transplanting a little bare stick bush wouldn't be too glamorous but the sentimentality of planting seeds would be appropriate and if those seeds never sprouted or grew into a garden plant, who's going to know?

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

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