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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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Monday - April 04, 2011

From: Katy, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Possibility of growing a Lacey Oak in Katy, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Katy, TX - west of Houston and would like to place a Lacey Oak tree in my yard. We enjoyed this tree in our former home south of Dallas - and I understand it does better in alkaline soils; but, it is rated as a Texas Superstar and the literature says it will tolerate well-drained clay soils. So, do you believe I would have success growing it at this location and, if so, what steps can I do to ensure that success. Also, I've been unable to find these anywhere in the Houston area. Are you able to tell me where the nearest dealer is who might carry this selection? Thank you for your time.

ANSWER:

Did you not think maybe there was a message in the fact that you couldn't find a Lacey Oak in your area? Granted, nurseries sell a lot of things that are not native to an area, or even North America, and we always advise people to remember that just because a plant is sold locally doesn't mean it will grow locally. In your case, you can't even find it. So, let us see what we can find out and try to advise you to do.

This USDA Plant Profile map shows that Quercus laceyi (Lacey oak) does not grow in East Texas, but only Central and far West Texas. Follow the plant link to learn more about the growing conditions and soils preferred for this tree. Also from that page is this note:

"According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations: Hill Country Natives - Leander, TX"

Leander is in the Hill Country, near Austin, and a fair step from Katy to buy a tree. You might try going to our National Suppliers Directory, type your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape and environment consultants in your general area. All have contact information, and you could get in touch with them in advance to see if they have the tree in stock. Since Katy is in three counties, we would suggest that you pick the county in which you are located and contact the Extension Office for Harris, Ft. Bend or Waller County and ask what they advise about the Lacey Oak for your area.

Instead of that, we would like you to consider planting trees native to East Texas that are much more likely to prosper in your normal rainfall, temperatures and soils. Go to our Recommended Species section, click on East Texas on the map, which will generate a list of 133 plants recommended for that area. Using the sidebar on the right hand side of the page, select "tree" under General Appearance, and you will get a list of 45 trees that are expected to do well where you are. Just to get you started, we will give you a short list of our suggestions. When you follow the plant link to our page on each tree, note that it will tell you the expected size of the tree, what requirements for sun it has, propagation instructions and benefits.

Trees for East Texas:

Ilex opaca (American holly) - evergreen, 25 to 60 ft. tall, sun, part shade or shade, moist well-drained acidic soils, attractive to birds

 Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) - evergreen, 12 to 45 ft. tall, sun, part shade or shade

Magnolia grandiflora (Southern magnolia) - evergreen, to 50 ft. tall, fragrant white blooms April to June, rich acidic soils

Quercus alba (White oak) - deciduous, to 100 ft., sun or part shade, acidic soil

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Ilex opaca


Ilex vomitoria


Magnolia grandiflora


Quercus alba

 

 

 

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