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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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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

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