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

Need a native tree for full sun in Hockley, TX
October 27, 2009 - What native trees should I plant for full sun. I am building on a 1/2 acre previously used as grazing land on the original Katy prairie. I need one large shade tree, a few smaller ornamentals, and a...
view the full question and answer

Flashing barrier to Bermuda in tree bed
September 16, 2007 - I'm building a 6-ft-diameter planting bed on a gentle slope on blackland clay, at the center of which I plan to install a cedar elm. I'm using the wedge-shaped stones from the home-improvement stor...
view the full question and answer

Possible reasons for early leaf drop of post oaks in Austin
October 27, 2004 - I have a post oak tree in my back yard that has been losing its leaves since mid-September. This is my first year in the house, and I am surprised that the tree would lose its leaves while the temper...
view the full question and answer

Bark splitting in old tulip tree in Red Creek, NY.
May 18, 2013 - Hello, We have a tulip tree that has some bark splitting I guess I would call it. The tree is older and very tall. On the north side of it starting at the bottom of the trunk to about 8-9 feet up i...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Live Oak in Boerne TX
April 24, 2011 - I had my large Live Oak trimmed last year. This spring there seems to be a problem with leaf growth. Most leaves are small in nature and appear to have been attacked possibly by bugs. Many of the bran...
view the full question and answer

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