Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Saturday - April 28, 2012

From: Cedar Grove, NJ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Fast growing, flowering shade tree for Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Sister just moved to Austin Texas. She is looking for fast growing shade trees, preferably one with nice flowers. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

First, you have to promise not to let her purchase or plant the tree until November or December. Something she needs to learn about Texas is that our summers can be brutal, dry and hot. We recommend that woody plants (trees and shrubs) be planted in Winter, when they are semi-dormant. Otherwise, you are risking transplant shock, which probably kills more trees and shrubs than disease or insects.

Second, native trees of Texas that are flowering are not generally very tall, although they would make some shade, but they can be very attractive in a landscape. The flowers of tall shade trees like oaks and pecans are icky tassels of green stuff that lots of people are allergic to.

Third, fast-growing trees are often short-lived and prone to disease that can shorten their lives even more.

Having said all that, we will list some trees that grow naturally in Travis County, and you can follow the plant links to our webpage on each tree to learn its projected size, see pictures of flowers and conditions in which they will grow.

Trees For Travis County, TX:

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)

Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow)

Fraxinus texensis (Texas ash)

Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum)

Quercus fusiformis (Escarpment live oak)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Texas ash
Fraxinus albicans

Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Trees Questions

Bracket fungus on live oaks
October 04, 2007 - I live in Cedar Park and the house we just bought has 4 native live oaks growing in the front yard. On two of the live oaks there are bracket fungi growing at their base. Each tree just produced two n...
view the full question and answer

Life expectancy for Ulmus crassifolia
June 21, 2007 - What is the life expectancy for a cedar elm? We live in Austin, and the tree was likely here before the house, which was built in 1939.
view the full question and answer

Screen Tree for Lockhart, TX.
March 30, 2015 - What is a good screening tree for a ranch in the Lockhart area that won't get much water.
view the full question and answer

Need for smaller tree with less invasive roots from Ft. Worth TX
June 07, 2014 - The sycamore in the front yard has developed roots larger than the branches. They have decided that the water and sewer lines are perfect to acquire their water from. For this reason it will be coming...
view the full question and answer

Texas native peach from Elmendorf TX
January 30, 2013 - Does Texas have a native peach tree that grows wild?
view the full question and answer

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