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Mr. Smarty Plants - Low evergreen drought-resistant shrubs for area in partial shade

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Friday - January 03, 2014

From: Hewitt, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Shade Tolerant, Shrubs
Title: Low evergreen drought-resistant shrubs for area in partial shade
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I promised my mom to help her with some new plants for her house, so here goes. She lives near Waco on Blackland clay soil. The problem area is right in front of the house. It only receives a few hours of sunlight every morning and since she is elderly, she isn't likely to provide any extra water. She has gutters also, so runoff is reduced. She has some type of Asian evergreen shrubs that alternately die from time to time leaving ugly gaps. I want to install some natives that can handle this mostly dry, shady environment. The dining room window needs to have a clear view of the yard & drive. The front bedroom window isn't used all that much, so we have more wiggle room there. The windows are approximately 2 feet off the ground. On either side of the windows we have full height brick walls. I would like to use some evergreens if possible. If not, I need some plants that are ornamental when they are dormant. I would be interested in any plant from vine to tree that you would recommend. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

ANSWER:

Here are several recommendations for evergreen shrubs, vines and shrub-like plants for the areas you describe at your elderly mother's home:

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) is evergreen and the female plants produce red berries that birds like to eat.  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden.  It can be pruned but there are also dwarf varieties available:

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo) is also evergreen (or maybe 'evergray' is a better descriptor) and produces beautiful purple flowers several times a year.  It does best in full sun but will grow in partial shade.  Again, this plant can be pruned to shape but there are also dwarf versions of it.  Here is more information from Maggie's Garden.

Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita) is evergreen and will grow in sun and part shade.  It produces edible red berries that are difficult to pick because its leaves are very prickly.  Here is more information from Texas A&M Aggie Horticulture.

Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac) is evergreen and will grow in sun and part shade.  Although it can grow to 10 feet, it can be pruned.  Here is more information from Texas A&M Aggie Horticulture.

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista) is evergreen, grass-like and grows to 1.5 to 2.5 feet and does well in part shade and dry conditions.  Here is more information from Texas A&M Aggie Horticulture.

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) is evergreen and drought tolerant once established.  It will grow in sun or part shade.  There are dwarf varieties (Myrica cerifera var. pumila = Morella cerifera var. pumilla).  Here is more information from Texas A&M Aggie Horticulture.

Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto) is evergreen and grows in sun, part shade and shade to 5 or 10 feet.   It might do well in front of the bedroom windows.   it will require moisture to get established but then will be able to tolerate drought.  Here is more information from Floridata.

Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle) is an evergreen vine that will grow on a trellis in sun or part shade.  Here is more information from Texas A&M Aggie Horticulture.

 

From the Image Gallery


Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Agarita
Mahonia trifoliolata

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Texas sacahuista
Nolina texana

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

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