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

Sunday - April 10, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs, Trees
Title: Problems with native palms in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We had a large variety of California fan palms and blue sabal palms in our yard that were damaged during the last freeze. We found that several of them now have "spear pull," which means we could pull out the core. What do you suggest as how to treat them, also, any suggestions as to a more hardy but tall palm that we can plant in Austin? Also,any way to keep a tall palm from freezing next time?

ANSWER:

Please read this previous answer on Washingtonia filifera (California fan palm, as well as following the plant link on that and the Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto). Somewhat to our surprise, both of these plants are native to North America. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and propagaton of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants are being grown.  This USDA Plant Profile map shows that the California fan palm does not grow natively in Texas at all, while this map shows that the blue sabal palm does grow in Travis County.

As we have no personal experience with palms, we went to the International Palm Society which apparently has some excellent information but requires a membership to access it. We did find information from Floridata on the Washingtonia filifera that we hope will help. Another article from Floridata on the blue sable palm also has some helpful information.

On your final question about palms that won't freeze in Austin, we suggest you do some research on "cold hardy palms"  but we think you should remember that Florida cold is not the same as Texas cold, and that palms are more a South Texas, southern California and south Florida plant.

 

From the Image Gallery


California fan palm
Washingtonia filifera

California fan palm
Washingtonia filifera

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

More Trees Questions

Having a problem with my Mexican Plum in Houston, TX.
July 05, 2011 - I am having problems with the Mexican Plum Tree in my backyard, sap is oozing from the branches and several large branches have died. I am inclined to think that it I have infestation of borers? How ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for under a black walnut from Lansing MI
October 04, 2012 - What native plants can you recommend that will grow in Michigan under a mature black walnut tree?
view the full question and answer

Blooms on Desert Willow withering quickly in Rockwall TX
July 15, 2010 - Why do the blooms on my Desert Willow dry up and wither away in one or two days?
view the full question and answer

Shumard oak or live oak in Waco TX?
October 02, 2009 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants, I planted 2 small Shumard oaks in my front yard (east side of the house, 8-9 hours of sun per day) 18 months ago. Both had been purchased from a national chain store's garden ...
view the full question and answer

Foundation plants for Albuquerque.
July 01, 2012 - Hello, I live in Albuquerque. I am looking for some native/xeric low water usage plants for foundation plants for my home. They will be foundation plants for a two story home that has a large ponde...
view the full question and answer

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