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

Monday - November 18, 2013

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Need a shade tree to plant in Houston, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Hi, i'm looking for a shade tree to plant on the southwest side of our house, both to make our backyard more enjoyable and to improve energy efficiency. We really like Live Oaks, but they just take too long to grow big enough to provide shade. Can you recommend a relatively fast growing shade tree that would do well in The notoriously alternating drought and flood conditions of Harris County. We don't have a preference between deciduous and evergreen, as long as it's a Texas native. Bonus points if the branches will one day be strong enough to climb. :)

ANSWER:

There are several reasons to plant a tree, and you have touched on a couple of good ones. SInce there is a lot of time and labor involved in planting a tree, the project should be approached carefully with a great deal of thought being given to the various stages; planning, selection, purchasing, planting, and continued care.

I’m going to provide several links to resources that address these aspects in the process.

The first link is to Colorado State Extension and it discusses the selection process and factors that should be considered. The list of trees may not all be suitable for Houston, but we’ll get to that later.

The Texas Tree Planting Guide  is an interactive guide that is fun to use. The “Tree Planting Tools” section is very helpful for the planning phase,  and the ”The Custom Tree Selector” shows you several possibilities for you area.

Our Native Plant Database  can provide you with a list of plants for your consideration. Go to the Combination Search box, and select Texas under State, Tree under Habit, and Perennial under Duration. Check Sun under Light requirement, and Dry under Soil moisture. Click the Submit Combination Search button, and you will get a list of 74 commercially available native species that can be used in Texas landscapes. Clicking on the scientific name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page that has the plant’s characteristics, growth information, and in most cases, images. Changing the selection criteria will bring up different lists.

Closer to home, the Houston Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT)  has a Native Plant Guide that should prove helpful in your search for the right tree.

This article from the Houston Chronicle reinforces our penchant for the use of native plants.

One last link is to our Step by Step Guide “How to Plant a Tree”.


 

More Planting Questions

Will suckering of coralberry be a problem in Homewood AL?
November 11, 2010 - I am considering planting Symphoricarpos orbiculatus in the yard of the home I just purchased. I am interested in attracting wildlife to my yard and covering over a stump with a 3' diameter. My onl...
view the full question and answer

Care for non-native hybrid hydrangea from Traverse City, MI
June 24, 2012 - We just planted some new Hydrangea (Summer Beauty) that we bought at a local nursery. The plants are about 3' tall with blooms on the stalks. The blooms appear to be top-heavy as most all the stalks ...
view the full question and answer

Planning garden tasks in advance from Austin
January 03, 2012 - My yard was a disaster last year-grass and trees browning, early leaf fall on flowering plants, and water bills sky high, even with the limited watering days. What can I do this year to prevent this s...
view the full question and answer

Optimum planting time for perennials and trees
November 02, 2007 - Our group is running out of fall workdays. Is it OK to plant native perennials and small trees in Central Texas during the winter months? Or should we wait now until the spring?
view the full question and answer

Need plants for new wrought iron planter in Spicewood,TX.
April 10, 2012 - I live in Spicewood, Texas, and have just purchased some really nice wrought iron window boxes for my patio railing. What would be the best and prettiest plants to use? Thank you
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center