The Do Not Plant List
The following is a list of plants that struggle in our area of Collin, North Dallas and East Denton County. If you are in a different area of the country or even the state, these problems will/may not apply. Unfortunately, some of these plants are readily available at nurseries, especially the large chains, which is why I recommend shopping at your local independent nursery for better quality, selection and knowledge of plants. There are some links to some local independent nurseries at the bottom of this page.
Flowers Not to Plant
Do not plant this pretty annual! Over planting in the past has led to the spread of a soil born fungus that will kill these flowers randomly in a bed. Half of them may look great, but the other half will be dead. There is no viable treatment and replanting the dead ones is futile. The fungus is in the soil and the new ones will likely perish too. If you really like this pretty flower, your best bet is to put some in a planter with fresh planting mix from a bag.
Shrubs Not to Plant
||Red Tip Photinia
This hardy green shrub with pretty red tips on the new foliage is blighted with the black spot fungal disease. We cut down more of these shrubs each year than anything else. It's not a fast moving disease and can often take several years to claim a plant, but usually does. There are some sprays and treatments for the disease, but to my experience, they seem to slow the disease rather than cure it. If you are looking for a new shrub: choose something else, such as a Nellie R Stevens Holly.
Trees Not to Plant
Trees are the single most important plants in our landscape. They create a shady refuge from the summer heat and add value to your landscape and home. When picking out a tree, it is important to remember that our soils in the NE quadrant of the Metroplex are predominantly alkaline which must factor into your choices. Again, if you are reading this site from a different part of the state or country, soil, weather and disease problems will vary widely and these assessments will/may not apply.
The “Quick Shade” Trees
The following and fastest growing trees are usually a combination of weak, disease prone, and short-lived trees. If I had to give one compromise, I might suggest a Bradford Pear tree. They grow relatively quickly, have a wide crown, with dense shade. When this tree matures it will have very dense shade, making ground covers more suitable than grass. They are also prone to Cotton root rot, an untreatable fatal disease.
Huge growing (to 100ft), messy, relatively short-lived, and too much to pay somebody to cut down when dead.
Shade is too dense, branches are weak and ungainly, disease prone.
Perhaps the most common native tree in Texas. The number 1 ‘volunteer’ or ‘weed’ tree in flower beds by my assessment. Ugly leaves and bark. You probably won’t find one of these for sale, but one may have already sprouted in your garden!
Short lived, aggressive roots, leave these guys in their native setting along a creek.
Beautiful tree with unusual bark, but too messy for residential uses. They start defoliating in late summer and do so over a long period of several months making you lawn continually messy. The leaves are huge too, which in itself is not bad, but they are a real eyesore when laying on your freshly mowed lawn.
Acid/Iron Loving Trees Not Suited For Our Alkaline Soils.
These trees can be great, but in their preferred soil choice – acidic. Here in our alkaline soils they look yellow and sickly.
Prefer acidic soil. Some varieties such as Japanese Black or Austrian do ok here, but most don’t. I probably see one beautiful pine for every 10 sickly ones. Not good odds. If you decide to get one, do plenty of research to ensure you know what you are getting.
Same as Pines, prefer acidic soil, look yellow and sickly here.
Some look good, but most look yellow and sickly here.
Good Tree / Bad Tree
These trees can be great, but unusual growth habits can make them a bad choice for residential use.
These put up root ‘knees’, which make walking or mowing under or around the tree a nightmare. Keep in mind the roots will appear as wide as the crown of this tree, an eventual 50 feet. Suitable only when planted out of the way in an oversized yard perhaps with a creeping groundcover over the roots.
This impressive evergreen looks like a huge Christmas tree. While not particularly intimidating in a 7 gallon pot, they grow to a 50’ height with up to a 35’ spread at the base – simply too large for most residential applications. Owners end up having to prune the bottom 10 feet of the trunk just to ‘get their yard back’ and this ruins the look of the tree. There are some nice specimens around the lakes by Willow Bend. Might be suitable in an oversized yard. One of my favorite trees.
I once restored an antique car and came to understand the saying that “sometimes these old cars can be more fun to look at than they are to own”. This advice may be true for Magnolias. They are gorgeous trees, but have incredibly dense shade limiting under-story plant choices and make a huge mess of themselves in the spring. My advice? Learn to enjoy seeing these trees in other yards!
Try these great local nurseries for both an excellent selection and solid advice on what to plant.
Shades of Green Nursery
8801 Coit Rd.
7700 Northhaven Rd.
Dallas, Texas 75230
Bruce Miller Nursery
1000 E. Beltline Rd
Richardson, Texas 75081