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

Wednesday - February 27, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Pruning, Trees
Title: Removing a non-native windmill palm from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a fairly good size windmill palm (about 15ft high) that is planted too close to the house. I also don't like having to constantly remove its fronds as they block a walkway. Is there a good way to remove this palm? I would not have chosen this species and would like to replace it with a good native shrub.

ANSWER:

Here is a U-Tube video on digging out a windmill palm. You will note that there are four or five BIG guys working on it, and the root ball is huge. It is native to China, Burma and India, which means it really doesn't belong in Central Texas. You are correct, it should not have been planted where it would interfere with the walkway, as it gets to be a really big tree.

From a website called Buzzle here is an article on palm tree removal. They have recommendations for simply killing the tree, but it still looks like a very big job. We would recommend you either take the advice of this article to try to trim it up to make it work in your environment or kill it. Our overall advice is to choose some professionals to do it, as they should not only have the big guys but the right machinery. This is a lesson for anyone else considering planting a palm or any other large tree; be aware of the mature size and branch growth of the planned tree before you plant. You didn't plant it so it's not your fault, but you still have the problem to deal with.

Now we will go to our Native Plant Database and, using the Combination Search, select on Texas for the state, "shrub" for the Habit, and pick out the Light Requirement and expected size on the Search page. We will give you a sample list choosing plants native to Travis County. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant and see if the ones on our list suit your purposes. Since we don't know the size you want nor the amount of sunlight you will have for the plant, you may need to refine our search for a better fit in your yard. For instance, there is a place on that search page for whether you want an evergreen or deciduous plant.

Shrubs for Austin:

Aesculus pavia (Scarlet buckeye)

Aloysia gratissima (Whitebrush)

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow)

Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood)

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (Turk's cap or turkscap)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry)

Tecoma stans (Yellow bells)

 

From the Image Gallery


Whitebrush
Aloysia gratissima

Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Texas kidneywood
Eysenhardtia texana

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Turk's cap or turkscap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Yellow bells
Tecoma stans

Scarlet buckeye
Aesculus pavia

More Trees Questions

Need help with pruning my Anacacho Orchid tree.
January 04, 2010 - We have an Anacacho Orchid Tree which has done so well in its location that we will need to prune it back. Please advise how much we can prune it and what time of year to do so. Thank you
view the full question and answer

Can Texas Ebony seed pods be used as mulch in Edinburg TX
May 10, 2010 - I just bought a house with two large Texas ebony trees out front. I read somewhere that the seed pods could be used as mulch? Is this true? If so, would I need to remove the seeds from the pods fir...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing evergreens for privacy in Center, TX
March 30, 2010 - I live in East Texas and am looking for a fast growing evergreen for a privacy screen around my backyard. The area gets partial sun and the soil has a lot of clay in it.
view the full question and answer

Webbing on the bark of a hackberry tree.
October 03, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants. We have a large hackberry tree in our back yard that has what appears to be extensive spider webbing covering large areas of the bark at the trunk . . and extending well up th...
view the full question and answer

Is western soapberry (Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii) dioecious?
February 15, 2008 - Hi! I found different information on the flowering habits of the western soapberry, Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii. Is it dioecious or polygamo-dioecious or none of them? I have some little seed...
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