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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 - March 30, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Death of non-native eleaegnus from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a long hedge of elaeagnus, about 5 ft tall. Four of them died in the middle of the hedge. Where can we find such big plants? Is it advisable to unroot and transplant from another area?

ANSWER:

First, please read this article from the National Park Service on elaeagnus. Note particularly this sentence. "DO NOT PLANT ELAEAGNUS. Remove prior plantings, and control sprouts and seedlings. Bag and dispose of fruit in a dumpster or burn."

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, recommends only plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow natively; in your case, Travis County. This plant is native to temperate and subtropical regions of Asia.

We can answer your question about getting larger plants and transplanting them in that we don't recommend it. A large woody plant would be very susceptible to transplant shock anyway, and if the plants that died were suffering from a disease or soil-borne fungus, both the new and existing shrubs would be in danger of dying. Big waste of resources.

What we can do, even if you don't choose to remove the remaining shrubs, is suggest you begin a mixed hedge, using native plants that can prosper in the climate and rainfall of this area. With a mixture of plants, you will have an attractive variety; it will no longer be a boxy one-plant hedge, but a group of different heights and textures, perhaps with bird or butterfly friendly plants, blooms at different times of the year, etc. And, if the remaining elaeagnus begins to fail, you will be ready with a plan to reshape your hedge.

We do suggest that any planting of woody plants be done quickly, in early April, or to hold off until late Fall. Woody plants like trees and shrubs should always be planted in cool weather if at all possible. Please read our Step by Step Guide on How to Plant a Tree; again, the procedure for planting one woody plant is pretty much the same as for another.

We are going to go to our list of plants for the Edwards Plateau to select some suggested shrubs for you. Choosing plants native to the area in which you are gardening makes it much more likely those plants will thrive in the soils, climate and rainwater in which your plants grow. The only chacteristics we will select on are "shrub" for Habit, and 3 - 6 ft. for Height, since we don't know how much sunlight you have in that area. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn its mature size, growing conditions, amount of sunlight needed, etc. You can run your own search, changing the specifications you want.

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)

Calylophus berlandieri ssp. pinifolius (Berlandier's sundrops)

Pavonia lasiopetala (Rock rose)

Philadelphus texensis (Texas mock orange)

Senna lindheimeriana (Lindheimer's senna)

Tecoma stans (Yellow bells)

 

From the Image Gallery


Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Berlandier's sundrops
Calylophus berlandieri ssp. pinifolius

Rock rose
Pavonia lasiopetala

Texas mock orange
Philadelphus texensis

Lindheimer's senna
Senna lindheimeriana

Yellow bells
Tecoma stans

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