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?


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
2 ratings

Wednesday - December 04, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Growing Dwarf Yaupon Holly in Texas
Answered by: Anne Van Nest


We planted 10 extra dwarf yaupons in our Austin front yard. They were identified as 'Gremici' dwarf yaupon. I googled them to get more information about them in order to determine why five have died. However, I cannot find any information about them. Can you help? Thank you!


There are many great dwarf cultivars of yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) that make dense plants that are strong growers and can be used for hedging or used individually in the garden. Both male and female plants are needed to have good fruit production. The red berries are very vibrant in the winter landscape.
The leaves and twigs contain caffeine, and American Indians used them to prepare a tea, which they drank in large quantities ceremonially and then vomited back up, lending the plant its species name, vomitoria. The vomiting was self-induced or because of other ingredients added; it doesn’t actually cause vomiting. Tribes from the interior traveled to the coast in large numbers each spring to partake of this tonic, and it was also a common hospitality drink among many groups. It remained popular as such among southeastern Americans into the 20th century and is still occasionally consumed today, with a flavor resembling another holly drink, the South American yerba mate, from Ilex paraguariensis.

In looking for a match to your plants, I wasn’t able to find a cultivar called ‘Gremici’ and suspect that it is either a brand new name or is spelled differently. The University of Arkansas plant database for dwarf yaupon holly list recommended cultivars as ‘Compacta,’ ‘Helleri’, ‘Condeaux’ (Bordeaux), ‘Nana’,  and ‘Schillings (Stokes Dwarf)’.
Also a possibility is the dwarf yaupon cultivar ‘Grey’s Littleleaf’ which has extra small leaves and reddish-purple new growth.  The NC State University Cooperative Extension has a good article on dwarf yaupon hollies that describe these “working class plants” that perform with first-class results.

Anyway, yaupon holly is usually quite a tough plant so we would like to suggest that perhaps there is a soil or drainage issue that is causing your plants to die. While they are quite tolerant of drought and moist soil conditions, they do prefer sandy soils and may have trouble if grown in heavy, water-logged soils.   The US Department of Agriculture Forest Service and USDA have a good factsheets on the species that will have some tips for growing this plant. 


From the Image Gallery

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex vomitoria

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Bignonia capreolata with brown leaves in Pennsylvania
April 24, 2009 - 3 year old crossvine leaves brown and dead looking. Will it come back and bud out? Crossvine on fence southern exposure. Crossvine on fence in another area has leaves and are dark green/purple - sa...
view the full question and answer

Live oaks exhibiting white foam spots from Round Rock, TX
June 08, 2014 - We have several native very large Live Oak in our backyard, and this summer we have noticed white foam spots on the branches. We live in Round Rock next to the Williamson County Park. The spots look...
view the full question and answer

Bacterial spot in peach tree in McDade TX
February 05, 2009 - I have a Red Globe peach tree which was planted in February 2008. The local agricultural extension agent identified the tree as having Bacterial Spot in November 2008. They recommended copper hydrox...
view the full question and answer

Waxy deposits on Magnolia fuscata from Ethel LA
June 18, 2013 - I have a 4yr old Magnolia Fascata (aka banana shrub)- I noticed that it has small oval shaped yellow waxy deposits on the branches.. I have also noticed small black ants on the branches. The unknown d...
view the full question and answer

Need help with powdery mildew and mites in Bastrop, TX
July 26, 2011 - I tend to flower beds for the city. I have noticed a powdery mildew in 2 beds. It is on the Pavonia and Turks caps. I now notice mites. What should I do?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center