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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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Wednesday - June 17, 2015

From: Pauma Valley, CA
Region: Select Region
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Need fast growing shade tree in San Diego County, CA
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I am looking for a fast growing tree that provides great shade. The reason being, is I need shade for three horseshoe pits and the sooner i get shade, the better. I live in San Diego county, zone 9b. So I need something drought tolerant. We see temperatures from 105 degrees ferenheit to 32 degrees ferenheit. Normal highs in the summer are in the 90's and normal lows in the winter are in the 40's. I would prefer an evergreen, but a deciduous will be fine if I find it appealing. I'm thinking about planting fruitless mulberries, they produce amazing shade during the summer, grow quickly, and they look good. However, when winter comes they will lose most or all their leaves.. any other suggestions? P.s. I'm not a fan of olive, pepper, or eucalyptus trees..

ANSWER:

The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes. In short, we are all about native plants. So I’m going to put you in touch with some like-minded folks in California; the San Diego County Chapter  of the California Native Plant Society. They can assist you with your tree selection as they are more familiar with your local growing conditions.

Two other links that may prove helpful: one is for the UC Coop Extension COOP that describes the qualities of Morus alba, the fruitless mulberry; and the other is SoCalDPP  that deals with avoiding selecting non-native, invasive plants.

You are going to have to wait awhile to get a tree to grow enough to provide shade for pitching horseshoes, unless you are planning on transplanting a mature tree. You may want to get a ten gallon hat to wear.

 

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