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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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Thursday - June 24, 2010

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Trees
Title: Small tree for container near pool in Houston
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Can you recommend a small tree that I can grow in a pot for shade? Looking for minimal mess because it will be near the pool. How big should the pot be?

ANSWER:

First of all, you should read our How to Article, Container Gardening with Native Plants.  This article gives you information about proper potting mixture, container type and size, maintenance and more.  You might also like to read "Trees in Pots" by Marty Ross from Flower and Garden Magazine, August-September, 1995.

Now for trees that you might grow in a container—I am guessing that you want something evergreen.  Here are a few evergreens that can grow into small trees for the Houston area:

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) grows up to 20 feet high.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) grows usually to about 25 feet.

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) grows 15 to 36 feet high.

Vaccinium arboreum (farkleberry) is almost evergreen and grows 12 to 15 feet high. The leaves turn red in the fall. 

Here are a few small deciduous trees that would do well in Houston:

Ilex decidua (possumhaw) grows 15 to 30 feets tall.

Frangula caroliniana (Carolina buckthorn) can reach 20 feet.

Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum) grows 15 to 35 feet.

Cornus drummondii (roughleaf dogwood) grows to 16 feet.

All of the above trees produce berries that are attractive to birds.  Three of them—Morella cerifera, Ilex vomitoria and Ilex decidua have two types of trees—those with male flowers and those with female flowers.  Only the trees with female flowers will produce fruit.  The other five trees have both male and female flowers on the same tree and are all capable of producing berries.  So, if you are worried about the mess the berries might make, you can ask the nursery where you buy the tree if they can guarantee that you are getting a male tree of one of the three named above.  You can visit our National Suppliers Directory to look for nurseries that specialize in native plants in the Houston area.  

You can see other choices on the Texas—East Recommended page.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option and choose 'Trees' or 'Shrubs' from the GENERAL APPEARANCE category.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Morella cerifera

Ilex vomitoria

Prunus caroliniana

Vaccinium arboreum

Ilex decidua

Frangula caroliniana

Prunus mexicana

Cornus drummondii

 

 

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