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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.

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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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Tuesday - March 05, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: User Comments, Soils, Shrubs
Title: Agarita suggestion for Houston area
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Another possible plant for the following question is agarita. The question: "Looking for a very, very, thorny three or four foot tall shrub for in front of windows to deter break-ins. Considering Rosa Rugosa rose but it is not native."

ANSWER:

Thank you for your suggestion for question #8975. If the person asking the question had been from Austin or Central Texas, Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita) would have been my first recommendation, too.   However, the questioner is from Sugar Land, Texas in Fort Bend County—adjacent to Harris County and adjoining the Houston metropolitan area.  If you look at the USDA Plants Database distribution map, you will see that agarita doesn't occur in Fort Bend or Harris Counties (if you click on the map, it will add the county names) nor anywhere along the upper Gulf Coast of Texas.  If you look at the GROWING CONDITIONS on the agarita species page, you will see that the "Soil Description:  Rocky, limestone soil" certainly doesn't match soils in the Houston area. In short, the habitat in Sugar Land/Houston won't support growing agaritas.  You can see a map of the Soils of Texas with descriptions of the various soil regions of Texas from the State Historical Society's Texas Almanac.  Additionally, the humidity for Houston area (average of 90% in the morning to 63% average in the afternoon) is  higher than that for Austin in Central Texas (average of 83% in the morning and 59% in the afternoon).

 

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