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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.

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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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Thursday - September 20, 2012

From: Spring, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Heat tolerant arborvitae for Spring TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is there an arborvitae that would be heat-tolerant to Spring, Texas (north of Houston) and amenable to neutral clay soil?

ANSWER:

There are two members of the genus Thuja (arborvitae) native to the Northeast and Northwest U. S.,  Alaska and Canada: Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae) and Thuja plicata (Western arborvitae). If you follow the plant links to our webpages on these plants, you will see that both need cool temperatures and moist soil.  See the USDA Plant Profile Map on Thuja occidentalis as well as the map on Thuja plicata. You will note that Texas shows up on neither map, and we discovered that only 3 counties in far northwest California are included.

Spring TX, is in Harris County, and is in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 10. These arborvitae are considered hardy in Zones 5-8; however, on our webpage for Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae) this sentence, "The species tolerates air pollution and heat as long as it is rooted in cool, moist soil." gives some hope that it might, just might be possible. We have no doubt that large commercial nurseries and home improvement stores will have one or both of these trees for sale, so if you're game, there is no reason why you shouldn't try it. We know that these trees make beautiful hedges but if they can't survive in your environment, they are just compost.  If you go to the webpage on either plant, scroll down to "Additional Resources" at the bottom of the page and follow the Google link to more information. This is your decision.

 

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