Texas superstar trees do well in various landscape settings

January 29, 2004
Victoria County Master Gardeners

If you have been following our articles on Texas Superstars, you are already familiar with the main requirements for these plants to qualify for the Texas Superstar distinction.

They are drought tolerant and disease and insect resistant. Also, these plants and trees have undergone field testing throughout the state for at least two to three years before receiving the Texas Superstar status. Thus, they are proven specimens, ones that should do well for you in various landscape settings.

You should plant Superstar trees in full sun any time from November through February, at least 15 feet from your house. Please refer to the Sept. 11, 2003 "Gardeners' Dirt" article, which was written by Master Gardener Mary Logan, regarding pertinent tree planting information. It can be accessed through the Master Gardener Web site: VCMGA Web Site

Lacey oak, the most recent addition to Texas Superstar trees, is a tough little tree, maturing from 30 feet to 35 feet in height and spread. Smaller than most oak trees, Lacey oak is a perfect candidate for shading those small areas in an urban landscape.

The blue-green foliage, stout branches and gray bark are some of the beautiful features this tree has to offer. Many game animals, such as squirrels, turkey and deer savor the tiny acorns that drop in late summer and fall. This, too, makes it a wonderful addition to a naturalized area.

Plant the Lacey oak in well-drained soil, as it does not like wet feet. Xeriscapes or low water use landscapes are perfect conditions for growing Lacey oak. For a bit of the unusual, try growing it as a specimen in large containers to accent courtyards or entryways to large buildings. The picturesque growth habit of this species would also be accentuated if it were used as a bonsai plant.

The Shantung maple tree, a native of northern China, is suitable for small yards. When mature, this tree reaches a height of 25 feet and width of 20 feet, with a spreading canopy.

In late fall, the leaves turn red to orange. The tree is also known as 'purpleblow maple' because of the light purplish-bronze leaf color.

When planted, the trunk needs to be wrapped for the first three growing seasons to prevent sunscald. This is a good practice for any thin-barked tree species.

Chinese pistache is regarded as one of the most easily maintained, attractive trees for South Texas. Young trees are said to be "ugly ducklings," only to be transformed into "beautiful swans" after a few years of pruning and shaping.

This tress is capable of reaching 50 feet high at maturity, with a canopy spread of 30 feet, an ideal size for any landscape.

The next two trees can be classified as small trees. The Winter red deciduous holly is an outstanding small native tree that drops its leaves in the fall to reveal showy red-orange berries on female plants. You will need one male flowering tree to ensure all the hollies in your yard produce.

"Winter Red" requires either full sun or partial shade, and will reach a height of 12 feet and a width of 8 feet. Powdery mildew and some leaf spots are occasional problems with this holly.

When planting several hollies, 3 feet to 5 feet centers should be a rule of thumb. These trees prefer a moist acidic soil with a high organic content, but will grow in a variety of soils. A good fertilizer program will produce the abundance of berries that last longer than other holly species.

Songbirds will be attracted to this plant.

Satsuma is another high quality Texas Superstar. It is the highest quality, most cold tolerant citrus for Texas. It produces easy-to-peel, almost seedless, and very sweet mandarin oranges. This tree reaches a height of 12 feet, and 10 feet in width. It will grow well in containers and can be moved indoors should temperatures dip below 25 degrees.

The Satsuma has attractive evergreen foliage and wonderfully fragrant white flowers in the spring. This is one Texas Superstar from which you can personally reap the benefits of both the fruit and fragrant flowers it bears.

Be watching for the next Texas Superstar article showcasing the beautiful hibiscus.