Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Wednesday - February 27, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Pruning, Trees
Title: Removing a non-native windmill palm from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a fairly good size windmill palm (about 15ft high) that is planted too close to the house. I also don't like having to constantly remove its fronds as they block a walkway. Is there a good way to remove this palm? I would not have chosen this species and would like to replace it with a good native shrub.

ANSWER:

Here is a U-Tube video on digging out a windmill palm. You will note that there are four or five BIG guys working on it, and the root ball is huge. It is native to China, Burma and India, which means it really doesn't belong in Central Texas. You are correct, it should not have been planted where it would interfere with the walkway, as it gets to be a really big tree.

From a website called Buzzle here is an article on palm tree removal. They have recommendations for simply killing the tree, but it still looks like a very big job. We would recommend you either take the advice of this article to try to trim it up to make it work in your environment or kill it. Our overall advice is to choose some professionals to do it, as they should not only have the big guys but the right machinery. This is a lesson for anyone else considering planting a palm or any other large tree; be aware of the mature size and branch growth of the planned tree before you plant. You didn't plant it so it's not your fault, but you still have the problem to deal with.

Now we will go to our Native Plant Database and, using the Combination Search, select on Texas for the state, "shrub" for the Habit, and pick out the Light Requirement and expected size on the Search page. We will give you a sample list choosing plants native to Travis County. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant and see if the ones on our list suit your purposes. Since we don't know the size you want nor the amount of sunlight you will have for the plant, you may need to refine our search for a better fit in your yard. For instance, there is a place on that search page for whether you want an evergreen or deciduous plant.

Shrubs for Austin:

Aesculus pavia (Scarlet buckeye)

Aloysia gratissima (Whitebrush)

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow)

Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood)

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (Turk's cap or turkscap)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry)

Tecoma stans (Yellow bells)

 

From the Image Gallery


Whitebrush
Aloysia gratissima

Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Texas kidneywood
Eysenhardtia texana

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Turk's cap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Yellow bells
Tecoma stans

Red buckeye
Aesculus pavia

More Non-Natives Questions

Supplier for non-native Norfolk Pine to East Texas
March 17, 2013 - I would like to buy a Norfolk Pine Tree for my uncle who lives 90 miles east of Dallas, Texas. He saw my Norfolk Pine tree in CA which is 30 to 40 ft. tall. Where can I find a company that will ship...
view the full question and answer

Lawn Maintenance in Colorado
March 20, 2010 - When do I begin to fertilize and water my grass in Colorado Springs? I am selling my house and want my lawn to look green?
view the full question and answer

Absence of blooms in non-native Rosa rugosa
June 30, 2008 - I have a rosa rugosa in my yard that was here when I moved in..and it has never bloomed. It is in a sunny spot, but there are never any flowers..not even a single bud on this trailing plant. I cut it ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Lorapetalum chinense from Driftwood TX
March 16, 2012 - In a previous response you said that it would not be wise to plant any trees with the word Chinese in it. Does this apply to Lorapetalum (Chinese Fringe Flower)? I would like to use this plant as a ...
view the full question and answer

Roses or other flowering plants for Coleman, Texas
March 10, 2009 - I want to plant native roses at a country home in Coleman Co., southern exposure, with well water, drip system,but ,hot, dry & windy! I know the Mutabilis does well in Austin, but, is it suitable for...
view the full question and answer

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