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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

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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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!

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Tuesday - October 02, 2012

From: Palm Desert, CA
Region: California
Topic: Trees
Title: Growing Magnolia trees in Palm Desert, CA.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Will magnolia trees grow in the Palm Desert/Indio, CA area?

ANSWER:

There are nine species of Magnolias in our Native Plant database and one of the more popular ones, Magnolia grandiflora (Southern magnolia) is described as one of the most beautiful native trees. It grows in rich porus acidic soils in lowland and coastal woods in the southeastern United States. Southeastern Texas is about as far west as it grows.

My guess is that a tree that prefers moist temperate and sub tropical regions would not be happy in a place called Palm Desert.

To consider alternative plants, lets go to our Native Plant Database. Scroll down to Recommended Species Lists, and click on View Recommended Species Page. Click on Southern California on the map and you will get a list of 208 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in California. SInce we are interested in trees, lets go to the Narrow Your Search Box on the right of the page and make the following selections: select California under State, Tree under General Appearance,  perennial under Lifespan, and check Sun under light requirement.”Click the Narrow Your Search” button and your list shrinks to 28. Clicking  on the scientific name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page which contains a description of the plant, its growth characteristics and requirements, and in most cases images. As you check out each plant, you can note its size and  and other features.

Here are just a few possibilities;

Cornus nuttallii (Pacific dogwood)    (more information)

Quercus kelloggii (California black oak)   (more information)

Quercus engelmannii (Engelmann oak)  (more information)

Quercus agrifolia (California live oak)  (more information)

Washingtonia filifera (California fan palm) (more information)




 

 

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