En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

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

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Drought-resistant ground cover for Massachusetts
July 11, 2012 - Mr Smarty Plants I am looking for drought resistant,low maintenance ground cover for a LEED certified project in Florence MA. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Drought affecting non-native Zoysia grass in Austin
November 06, 2011 - Due to the extreme drought here in Austin this year and the watering restrictions our Zoysia lawn has suffered and appears to be dead in many areas of our lawn. Will it come back? Is there anything w...
view the full question and answer

Blue plants or flowers in Baltimore, MD
July 27, 2007 - I have a taxi company in the city called Bluecab. The headquarters is in an industrial area and the soil is tough and well, industrial. There will be no watering or maintenance done. Looks like a car ...
view the full question and answer

Small native plants to line driveway in Los Fresnos, Texas
March 15, 2010 - I have a 70' driveway. What are recommended drought resistant dwarf (no more than 3 feet) plants to line the driveway?
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Austin yard
March 08, 2012 - My main goal is to cover my yard with a "grass" or groundcover that can handle the Texas heat, predicted long drought and some dog paw traffic (without going dormant/brown in the winter). I don't n...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center