Quercus fusiformis

"Can you recommend trees for my place in the Hill Country where it is dry and windy?"

I am suggesting evergreens that will offer shelter from cold winter gusts as well as summer storms. Remember that all plants, even drought-tolerant trees, should be given a bit of extra water for the first year or two after planting to help them establish.

At top of my list is the escarpment live oak (Quercus fusiformis), which is iconic in Hill Country landscapes, but if you are looking for more diversity, how about:
- Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica), particularly the variety ‘Blue Ice,’ which has stunning electric blue foliage. It grows about 30 feet tall by 10-12 feet wide.
- Juniperus virginiana ‘Brodie’ is a handsome, upright selection of our native cedar that reaches 25 feet tall by 8-10 feet wide, but probably larger over time. Good for large-scale hedging.
- Loquat oak (Quercus rhysophylla) has large, leathery leaves with a broad canopy about 60 feet tall by 40 feet wide.
- Texas ebony (Ebenopsis ebano) is an elegant, shrubby tree up to 30 feet tall that is armed with wicked thorns so it can double as a deer deterrent. Creamy white flower spikes in spring attract hummingbirds and honeybees.
- Anacua or sandpaper tree (Ehretia anacua) has small, rough-textured leaves and small white flowers in spring that are followed by red berries. Slow-growing to 50 feet tall.
- Bull Bay magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) is always associated with swampy areas but, surprisingly, this tree is very drought tolerant – I have seen it used as a street tree in Los Angeles.
- Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) is an evergreen, faster-growing cousin of our native bald cypress that can reach 120 feet tall and it does not form knees.

Darrin Duling is the director of Mercer Botanic Gardens in Humble. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Darrin Duling
Author: Darrin DulingEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am the director of Mercer Botanic Gardens located at 22306 Aldine Westfield Road in Humble. I hold The Royal Horticultural Society of England certificate of training, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, diploma of horticulture and a Master of Science degree in plant taxonomy from the University of Reading, England. I have worked in botanic gardens in England, Thailand, Florida and New York, and was sole proprietor of Duling Designs LLC, a landscape design/consultation business in Greenwich, Conn. My botanical explorations have taken me to Brazil, Brunei, Sabah, Singapore, Thailand, Peru and other exotic destinations.