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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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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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Sunday - March 17, 2013

From: Santa Paula, CA
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Trees
Title: Supplier for non-native Norfolk Pine to East Texas
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

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 a tree to Texas?

ANSWER:

Auracaria heterophylla (Norfolk Island Pine) is endemic (meaning it only grows naturally in), well, Norfolk Island, a small Pacific island between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. Before you make any decisions, we suggest you read this article from Purdue University Yard and Garden Norfolk Island Pine Needs TLC. Notice paticularly this paragraph:

"What is most challenging for the typical home gardener is giving this plant the high relative humidity it needs. Norfolk Island pine thrives at 50 percent relative humidity, yet it is not unusual for the average house to drop to 15 percent during the winter heating season, unless steps are taken to increase moisture in the air. Running a humidifier will increase the comfort of people and plant and is the most effective way to adequately raise the humidity."

Since you live in Santa Clara County, near the Pacific Coast in Central California, you probably have enough humidity from the ocean to support this plant. In Texas, even East Texas, 50% humidity is rare. Furthermore, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, never recommends plants unless they are native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants are native, which doesn't even include California.

Most people grow this plant as a house plant, or use it for a Christmas tree, and then when it dies from the lack of humidity, it is tossed. If you search the internet on "Norfolk Pine to be shipped" you will receive a number of hits. Just keep in mind what will be the fate of the gift.

 

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