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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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Friday - February 27, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils, Trees
Title: Need suggestions for planting trees in poor soils in Austin, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Due to the clay soils and poor drainage in East Austin, what ornamental trees do you normally suggest?

ANSWER:

Lets start with sending you to a couple of links from Bachmans.com #!  & #2  that will give you some tips for dealing with the soil problem.

As for trees, I have three suggestions for sources. The first is our NPIN Plant Database.
Click on the link above and use the Combination Search feature. Select Texas under State, Tree under Habit, and Perennial under Duration. Check Sun under Light Requirement, Dry under Soil Moisture, and 12 - 36’  under Height. Click the Submit combination Search button, and you will get a list of 34  native plant species that fit these criteria. Clicking on the scientific name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page that contains a description of the plant including growth characteristics, requirements, and in most cases images. You can modify the search by changing the Light requirement, or Soil moisture, or Height choices. Look for trees that are adapted to your growing conditions.
Another source is the Tree Selector from Texas A&M Forest Service Service. This is an interactive guide that is fun to use for selecting trees as well as  planting them.
For  the third source, you can also tap into the expertise of the people at Tree Folks, and perhaps get a free tree.

 

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