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Problem Trees


In addition to the good tree choices for Texas, it’s important to identify the bad choices. Here they are.

Arizona ash is short-lived, a heavy water user, has destructive roots, is subject to several insect and disease problems, and will suffer freeze damage.

Chinese tallow freezes back every hard winter in the northern part of the state and has lots of insect and disease problems.

Cottonwood trees are stately and beautiful when healthy but are a bad investment. They are short-lived, have brittle wood, are subject to wind damage, insects, especially borers, and the female plants produce messy cotton that clogs air conditioners.

Siberian elm is the worst choice of all. It is incorrectly called Chinese elm. It has severe elm leaf beetle infestation every year and is susceptible to Dutch elm disease. Wind damage due to weak wood is also a problem.

Honey locust continues to be used by some people but borers love it, and it just never seems to be healthy here. It also has extremely vicious thorns

Hackberry is just a big weed. It is short lived and fraught with insects and diseases.

Mimosa is another real dog. Although beautiful when healthy, it never is. The root system is ravenous and destructive, and the tree is highly vulnerable to insects and diseases.

Fruitless mulberry is the most overused junk tree. It shades the ground too heavily, uses too much water, and is the target for several insects and diseases. Its root system is highly destructive to lawns, walks, driveways, and pipes. It is also short-lived.

Pin oak grows well in acidic, sandy soil but is a disaster in alkaline, clay soils. It cross breeds with other oaks and creates problems. Red oaks accidentally crossed with pin oak will always be yellow and sick in alkaline soils.

Poplars in general are fast-growing, unhealthy trees and should be avoided. Lots of insects and disease problems.

Silver maple is a lousy tree. It is usually chlorotic (yellow from trace mineral deficiency), subject to insects and diseases, and has weak, brittle wood.

Sycamore trees are gorgeous when healthy, but disease problems are wiping them out. Bacterial leaf scorch is the primary culprit.

Italian cypress trees are prone to freeze damage, insect problems, and diseases.

Working with Nature is the key to successful tree growing. Trying to use problem trees is fighting Nature because these plants just don’t like it here in Texas and will never be successful. Some of them don’t like it anywhere. Stick with recommended varieties and enjoy your trees and the birds in them.

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