Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
9 ratings

Friday - January 25, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Fruit trees for South Austin.
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in South, South Austin, just a pinch West of 35 near 1626. I would like to plant some fruit trees in the back yard. Anyone will sell fruit trees, but they don't always grow. What fruiting variety would be good for my area soil (some clay, lots of limestone chunks and a bit of sand). I don't want to just plant them and watch them die or not produce fruit. I am looking toward dwarf varieties if possible. Also, how many do I need to plant to get good pollination. Thanks, Julie

ANSWER:

There are several native (or "wild") fruit trees that will do well in Austin (e.g., Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum) and Prunus rivularis (creek plum)). However, I am going to guess that you are interested in cultivated plums, peaches, figs, apricots, etc. These are all cultivars of introduced non-native trees. For instance, Prunus persica (peach), probably originated in China and then was introduced to the Mediterranean before being brought to North America. Since our focus and expertise here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is with plants native to North America, we can't really be much help choosing cultivated fruit trees. A good resource for finding information about gardens and orchards is the Travis County Texas Cooperative Extension Service. Their web site gives a telephone number. You could contact them to see if they have a list of recommended varieties of fruit trees for Austin. Additionally, their Central Texas Horticulture page has information on Gardens & Orchards as well as Landscaping & Lawns and Ornamental Plants, to name a few.

Don't rule out the native fruit trees, however. The fruits of Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum), for instance, are small but delicious and make a very tasty jam. Additionally, they have beautiful spring blossoms. The ripe Diospyros virginiana (common persimmon) fruits are also delicious. There are other native plants that have edible fruits. If you would like to learn more about them, you can find a very good discussion in Delena Tull's Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest.

 


Prunus mexicana

Prunus rivularis

Diospyros virginiana
 

More Trees Questions

Grafting different colors of Tecoma from Casa Grand AZ
April 01, 2014 - Is it possible to graft different colors of tecoma and if yes, is the process same as process for grafting roses?
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
view the full question and answer

How to tell the girls from the boys in wax myrtles (Morella cerifera)
May 14, 2010 - How would I be able to identify whether my wax myrtles are male or female plants? I was given two plants last fall (that came from a family members back yard) and the person who gave them to me didn'...
view the full question and answer

Native Texas Trees from Seed for Fence Line
July 07, 2016 - My parents have an unirrigated fence line on their property that they want to grow evergreen screening plants along. Given the difficulty of establishing nursery grown plants in such an unirrigated a...
view the full question and answer

Hypoxylon Canker removal in Austin TX
March 26, 2012 - I have several oaks that appear to have been killed by Hypoxylon atropunctatum from last summer's drought. Is it safe to cut them down in March or does that risk spreading Oak Wilt too. Should I ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.