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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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Saturday - August 17, 2013

From: Midland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils, Shrubs
Title: Will ceanothus grow in West Texas from Midland TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

re: Ceanothus - you have two ceanothus in your data base. Will any of those grow in West Texas? (southern exposure, full sun)? Will any of the California native ceanothus grow in West Texas?

ANSWER:

Actually, we have 24 members of the Ceanothus genus in our Native Plant Database., of which 4 are native to Texas. Here is a list of those:

Ceanothus americanus (New jersey tea) - This USDA Plant Profile Map shows that this shrub grows in the eastern United States and up into northeast Canada. If you click on Texas on that map, you will see that it only is reported as growing in east and northeast Texas, which is probably because of soil conditions. This species is deciduous.

Ceanothus fendleri (Fendler ceanothus) - We don't have much information on this plant, except that it is evergreen. This USDA Plant Profile Map shows that it grows no closer to Midland County than Jeff Davis County.

Ceanothus greggii (Desert ceanothus) - This species is shown on its USDA Plant Profile Map as growing mostly in the Big Bend area and is semi-evergreen.

Ceanothus herbaceus (Redroot) - This species is deciduous and the USDA Plant Profile Map shows it growing in several Panhandle counties.

Of these, only Ceanothus greggii (Desert ceanothus) grows in California as well, and that is only in Southern California. All are members of the Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn) family, which is a good omen as things with thorns seem to do better in West Texas, in the Panhandle where Midland County is. We are not insulting West Texas, this member of the Mr. Smarty Plants Team grew up in Big Spring.

It would appear to us that your best chances are with Ceanothus herbaceus (Redroot), so we will take a look at the growing conditions for that plant.

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2)
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Well-drained clays, sandy loams, or limey soils, calcareous preferred. Often found growing in cracks in limestone outcrops.
Conditions Comments: Prefers more alkaline and dry sites than other members of the species."

Take especial note that it needs well-drained soils, as do most desert plants. No woody plants (trees and shrubs) should be planted until cool weather (November to January) in Texas, and you need to work some compost, sand or even decomposed granite into your soil if it turns out to be clay. For more information on your soils, go to the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Education Office for Midland County for information on soils and soil tests.

We don't know if this plant is going to be for sale in your local nurseries. Please go to our National Suppliers Directory, put your town and state or just your zipcode in the "Enter Search Location" box and press GO. You will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and consultants in your general area.

 

From the Image Gallery


New jersey tea
Ceanothus americanus

Desert ceanothus
Ceanothus greggii

Prairie redroot
Ceanothus herbaceus

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