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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - October 26, 2009

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Will lilacs survive in Houston?
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

My wife loves the smell of Lilacs (we're originally from Oregon), but we don't see any here in Houston. Is it possible to get lilacs to survive in Southeast Texas?

ANSWER:

 
The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes.
 
So even if lilacs could survive in Houston (they suffer badly from powdery mildew and drop their leaves when summer is hot and humid even as far north as Philadelphia), we would recommend you not plant them.  Even though they are not native to North America, they are ubiquitous in the northern states and Canada and their fragrance evokes the memory of the begining of summer to all Northerners. But the north is where they belong and where they should stay.
 
Lady Bird lamented "Why can't Texas look like Texas?" long before every town had a Wal-Mart, Home Depot and identical restaurant chains. As a fellow northern transplant, I understand why you would want to have a familiar friend in your garden, but I encourage you to get to know and embrace the many very special native Texas plants that will thirve in this climate, which can be quite harsh.
 
Although nothing can mimic a lilac's fragrance,  you might try Texas' own purple flowering, overwhelmingly fragrant harbinger of spring ... Texas Mountain Laurel.  It is native to the Hilll Country and not the Houston area so it is drought tolerant and requires good drainage.  If you decide to plant one, make sure it is sited with good drainage on a berm or in another raised area.
 
 
 
 

More Trees Questions

Carolina buckthorn and Neem Oil Spray Damage
April 27, 2015 - It's April, I have a Carolina buckthorn that seemed to be doing well, about 8 feet tall, about 2 years old in part shade. It was putting out new leaves about a month ago and seemed to have infestati...
view the full question and answer

Will smoketrees (Cotinus sp.) grow in the Texas Panhandle region
June 03, 2010 - Will smoke trees grow in the Lubbock-Amarillo, Texas region of Texas?
view the full question and answer

Yellow in pin oak leaves from Allen TX
May 25, 2012 - I have two pin oaks and one is completely yellow - a sign of iron deficiency and the other is starting to turn completely yellow as well. I've a proposal for iron deficiency but it is quite expensiv...
view the full question and answer

Plantings for beneath a red oak in Lubbock TX
February 23, 2012 - What would you recommend to plant in a two tiered raised bed facing west, totally blocked from the east, thus receiving only the afternoon sun? A 21 year old red oak sits in the middle of the upper ra...
view the full question and answer

Fast growing shade tree for Canyon Lake, TX
November 02, 2012 - What is the best, fastest growing shade tree to plant in a residential yard about 1/2 block from the Guadelupe River in Sattler, Texas?
view the full question and answer

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