Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - March 19, 2008

From: Prairieville, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Transplants, Trees
Title: Viability of Texas Mountain Laurel in Louisiana
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I just returned from a visit to Austin and I saw the Texas Mountain Laurel everywhere. I live in the Baton Rouge, LA area and would like to know if performing some soil amendments would allow me to grow this plant in my yard. I have excellent drainage and plenty of sun where I'd like to plant a couple. Any chance of survival here. Thank you. Marc


Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) is really popular during its bloom period, which is now in Austin. In fact, we just answered a question about whether this plant would grow in Florida, please see this previous question. Honestly, we are not trying to discourage the use of some of our beautiful native Texas plants in other parts of the country. But we have to point out that it is only native to portions of Southeast New Mexico and Southwest Texas. Some of this is in the Chihuahuan Desert, which has elevations of 1000 to 5000 ft. The mid range of those elevations is called the "shrub desert" or the Oak-Juniper-Pinyon Woodlands on the slopes and valleys where Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) clings to the rock cliffs in the shade of peaks, in areas where some water might collect. The average annual rainfall of the Chihuahuan Desert is about 12 inches or less. This is not to say it cannot be grown anywhere else, and has been naturalized in areas of Arizona and Texas that are more borderline desert climate.

East Baton Rouge Parish, in the lower part of the "L" of Louisiana is a humid, subtropical climate, with long hot, wet summers. It is north by several counties of the Gulf Coast, and the average annual rainfall is 55 inches. As we advised the gardener in our previous question: experimenting with this, using seed and transplanting, is worth a try. However, consider this: the Texas Mountain Laurel requires full sun, which means that if you have it in a pot for good drainage, it will still have to sit outside in an unroofed area. How many years are you willing to haul larger and larger pots in and out to keep heavy rains from drowning your plant? Another point against the Mountain Laurel in any residential landscape is that the seeds and flowers of this plant are highly poisonous, so if you have children or pets that can come in contact with it, it could be dangerous. And, finally, what you saw blooming gloriously in Austin is now fading away to grayish blooms which will soon be completely gone, the bloom time being February and March.

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora






More Trees Questions

Pruning live oak in Austin
April 28, 2012 - Hi, We recently purchased a house in South Austin and there is a huge Live Oak Tree about 6 feet from the back door (so so so love it!) The only real issues I have so far are: 1. Needing to trim a ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of Hercules Club from Lathrup Village MI
October 12, 2009 - Thought the shrub was Hercules Club but when looked at photo on line, totally different leaf. Mine has palmate leaf rounded at the tips, spines that are short but substantial. Branches arch somewhat a...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen tree for Phoenix
November 17, 2013 - I need your help. I'm looking for a pretty evergreen tree for my small front yard in Phoenix. One that is not horribly messy and doesn't get wider that 10 - 15 ft. I want to be able to decorate at...
view the full question and answer

Is yellow tulip poplar alive from Gilbertsville PA
March 30, 2013 - How can I tell if my yellow tulip poplar is alive? thank you
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing tree, non-toxic for horses, in Northern California
March 18, 2010 - Hello..I need to find a fast growing shade tree, native to California (I live in Northern California, south of San Francisco) that would be safe next to (but not in) my horses paddock. Obviously some...
view the full question and answer

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