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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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Sunday - October 30, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: When (and whether) to plant non-native red-tip photinia in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

With the current and forecast drought I'm wondering if the usual rules about when to plant might change. I'd like to plant red-tip photinia.

ANSWER:

From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer:

"The first thing we will recommend is that you NOT use red tip photinias.  The red-tip photinia is non-native to North America, originating in the Far East. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are committed to the planting, protection and propagation of plants native to North America. Native plants are recommended because they are adapted to an area's soil, rainfall and climate, so requiring less water, less fertilizer, less maintenance. Here is a quote from a Mississippi State University Extension Service Red-tip Photinia Almost Eliminated

'Red-tip is highly susceptible to the fungal pathogen known as Entomosporium that causes leaf spots and ultimately defoliation. The disease has all but eliminated Red-tip from the list of recommended shrubs for Southern landscapes. In fact, the disease is so widespread that one plant pathologist jokingly explained that there are two types of Red-tip, those that have the disease and those that are going to get it!' "

Hopefully, you will select a native shrub that is more adapted. In terms of when to plant woody plants in Central Texas, nothing about that has changed. It is still better to plant fresh nursery stock in late Fall or Winter, when the plants are semi-dormant and will have less risk of transplant shock. Plants that are native to Central Texas have centuries of experience with hot, dry spells and alkaline, rocky soils. We suggest that you go to our Native Plant Database, use the Combination Search, on Texas, "shrub" under Habit, "dry" under Soil Moisture and other characteristics such as height and bloom you might want. You should be aware that the more specifications you search on, the fewer choices you will get, or perhaps none at all. Here are some native shrub possibilities we would suggest. Each of our suggestions is evergreen or semi-evergreen and grows naturally in Travis County.

Chrysactinia mexicana (Damianita)

Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri (Lindheimer's silktassel)

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)

Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)

 

From the Image Gallery


Damianita
Chrysactinia mexicana

Lindheimer's silktassel
Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Agarita
Mahonia trifoliolata

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

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