Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - April 23, 2013

From: Murrieta, CA
Region: California
Topic: Soils, Trees
Title: Will arctostaphylos grow in Austin, from Murrieta CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I currently live in Murrieta, CA at 2,000 ft. We planted 800 native plants on our slopes so they were extremely drought tolerant. One of my favorites is the Arctostaphylos family that will take the frost/freezes we get and still bloom in the winter (esp for the hummingbirds). Normally we don't get summer rain but occasionally we will get an August monsoon for a couple of days. I would like to know if the Arctostaphylos family was tested in the Central Texas area since the drought has made water so precious? Some of the new hybrids, Sunset and Paradise with red new growth, and Lester Rowntree are spectacular. We are planning to move to the Austin area and would love to plant some of these manzanitas in Austin.

ANSWER:

We don't know much about testing plants to see if they will grow here. The environment in Texas does its own testing. Generally speaking, plants will either grow here or they won't. We did a search in our Native Plant Database on "arctostaphylos" and got a list of 17 species native to North America; exactly one was native to Texas. This USDA Plant Profile Map on native locations of Arctostaphylos pungens (Pointleaf manzanita) shows that it grows in one county in Texas, Jeff Davis County, in the Chisos Mountains, which is deep in West Texas, close to the Mexican border. We looked at some others of the species, finding some endemic (growing nowhere else natively) to California, and many in seacoast areas.

You say you are growing the plants at an elevation of 2000 ft; Austin's elevation varies from 400 to 1000 ft., because we are on the Edwards Plateau, also known as the Texas Hill Country. Someone from the Appalachian Mountains once asked us where the hills were. Everything is relative - they look like hills to us, but mountain slopes they are not.

Looking further at the possibilities that some members of this species might grow in Austin, we found someone who wrote a post on Dave's Garden,  a forum, on Arctostaphylos pungens (Pointleaf manzanita). The writer sounded like he had tried them and was from San Antonio, which is also on the Edwards Plateau, south of Austin. You have to scroll down the page to the last comment.

So, we have gathered circumstantial evidence and tried to find an answer to your question, "Will members of the Arctostaphylos family grow in Austin?" Frankly, we don't have a good answer to your question. We do know that it is ordinarily found growing natively in acidic soils, which our soils definitely are not; the Edwards Plateau soils are very alkaline. And we found an article on the plant that said it was difficult to find in commerce.

 

From the Image Gallery


Pointleaf manzanita
Arctostaphylos pungens

More Soils Questions

Converting a Texas backyard to grow Xerophytic native plants
January 09, 2015 - I am planning the conversion of our backyard, about 4000 sq ft of largely St Augustine, into a grassless landscape of hardscaping and native plants. Iíve been an avid gardener of rock garden plants i...
view the full question and answer

Foundation Plants for South Carolina
November 07, 2009 - What native plants are suitable as foundation plantings? My soil is heavy clayey loam with red clay subsoil. I live in Charleston County.
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Tecoma stans in Texas
October 26, 2008 - I have a pair of Tecoma stans planted too near the house. They're in shade most of the day. The branches that can reach a little sun are blooming nicely. Would they survive being transplanted fart...
view the full question and answer

Plants for full sun and clay soil in NY
May 06, 2008 - We live in upstate new york( zone 5) with full sun and clay soil. What flowers/flowering shrubs would be successful in this environment?
view the full question and answer

Is it OK to remove soil around oaks - Austin, TX.
May 24, 2013 - I have several oaks trees (one live oak + burr oaks) from 15'-35' in height. They seem healthy. A local arborist says they were planted too deep and that the soil around them needs to be excavated t...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.