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 Shrubs Questions

Native plants for a garden in Panama City, FL
May 10, 2013 - I live in zone 9 in Florida. We are looking for plants which will be attractive all year long for the front of our house's landscaping which faces north. I need a specimen bush which doesn't get ov...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for under a pine tree in Vevay IN
June 29, 2009 - At our office we have a very nice garden however, in the front we have a large pine tree. We cannot get anything to take root & live there. Do you have any suggestions for a native shrub or perennia...
view the full question and answer

Native trees and shrubs for Austin
June 11, 2008 - Hello, I'm searching for a small or medium-sized endemic or native tree (or tree-like shrub) to feature in the front yard of my South Austin bungalow. I want something that provides dappled shade so...
view the full question and answer

Natural location of Ceanothus impressus in California
May 21, 2006 - Where is Ceanothus impressus 'victoria' native? I need as specific as you can. Thanks much.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs for Michigan
June 17, 2008 - I'm seeking a small-medium, ornamental, fairly compact, evergreen shrub to complement my front yard woodland wildflower garden. I want a shrub that will flank both sides of my front porch steps. I wa...
view the full question and answer

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