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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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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!

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Tuesday - December 26, 2006

From: Spring Branch, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Viability of Desert Willow and Hong Kong Orchid Tree in Spring Branch, TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We live in Spring Branch, Rt 281 north of San Antonio. We want to plant a Regal Desert Willow tree and a Hong Kong Orchid tree. Will the cold / freeze be a problem? Where locally can we purchase the trees 3 - 5 gal size.

ANSWER:

The Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) is native to southern California, northern Mexico and western Texas, but has now been naturalized to areas as far north as Kansas and Utah. It is cold hardy in USDA Zones 7B - 11. Spring Branch in Zone 8b is well within the range. Here are further instructions for its care from the University of Florida Extension Service.

The Hong Kong Orchid Tree (Bauhinia blakeana), as its name suggests, is not native to Texas and its hardiness rating is USDA Zones 9B-11. You might get away with planting it in a very protected area or in a large container that could be moved to a protected place in case of freezing weather; or, you might consider a native species of Bauhinia, the Anacacho Orchid Tree (Bauhinia lunarioides). It is good to Zone 8.

To find a nursery near you specializing in native plants, you can visit our National Suppliers Directory. You can also try the PlantNative database. There are many duplications between the two databases, but each also has unique entries.

 

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