Q: I am moving to Houston, Texas next month. The house where I’ll live has a live oak tree in the back yard and, according to what I have heard, nothing will grow underneath, plus it becomes muddy when it rains. I have had great success growing hostas and ferns in the shade here. Would ferns and hostas grow under this kind of a tree?
A: We will miss you terribly after you are gone, but if you must move, I think you’ll find conditions in Houston similar to here but hotter. Houston is more like Savannah and north Florida, in the coastal plain of Texas. The Hardiness Zone is the warmer half of Zone 8. You will discover that whether your plants live in Atlanta or Texas, they need the same thing: shade and water. Houston soil contains lots of clay. You should add plenty of organic amendments to a bed before planting and consider a soaker hose irrigation system for your entire landscape. To help you make the transition, I found a nice Web site on gardening in Houston (http://www.ghgcorp.com/beyer/hortpage.htm). Keep in touch!