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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

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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Saturday - August 10, 2013

From: Tucson, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Seeds and Seeding, Trees
Title: Source for Texas Olive Tree from Tucson AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can one start a Texas Olive Tree from the olives it produces? How can you start one. I am having difficulty finding a nursery, but do see the trees around.

ANSWER:

This USDA Plant Profile Map for Cordia boissieri (Mexican olive) does not even admit that the Texas Olive will grow in Arizona, but that just means it has not been reported to the USDA as growing there. If you follow the plant link above, you will find these growing conditions:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained caliche, sand, sandy loam, medium loam, clay loam, clay, or gravel soils
Conditions Comments: Prefers well-drained soil and full sun. Requires mild winters. Regular watering necessary to establish it, but once established within its natural range, it can be left on its own, making it a popular highway planting in the Valley."
Here is an article from the Master Gardeners of the University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension on the Texas Olive. If they tell you it will grow where you are, you can probably believe them, but do note the cautions about planting it in full sun and in a sheltered location.
In an article from Desert Tropicals, we found this paragraph on propagation by seed:
"Propagation by seeds might be tricky. Best results are obtained with fresh seeds at temperatures above 95°F". Here are the comments on Propagation from our webpage:

"Propagation

Propagation Material: Seeds , Semi-hardwood Cuttings , Softwood Cuttings
Description: Plant seed fresh or double-stratify. Take softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings in summer.
Seed Collection: Collect seed when it becomes muted yellow-white or pale brown with interior seed plump and hard. Clean and air dry before storage in cool, dry location.
Seed Treatment: Varies with locale and climate.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Requires much water to get it established but once established it is drought-tolerant."
If you are still having difficulty locating a source for this tree, go to our National Suppliers Directory, put your town and state or just your zipcode in the "Enter Search Location" box, click on GO and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and consultants in your general area.
 

From the Image Gallery


Mexican olive
Cordia boissieri

Mexican olive
Cordia boissieri

Mexican olive
Cordia boissieri

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