En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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 Shade Tolerant Questions

An evergreen, deer-resistant shrub for Memphis
July 24, 2013 - I need an evergreen, deep to partial shade, deer resistant shrub or tree. Does such a plant exist?
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep slope in shade in Iowa
July 02, 2010 - I work for a small non-profit shelter here in Dubuque, Ia. that has a very steep slope behind the building that needs some sort of plant or grass planted to stop erosion. The slope gets little to no s...
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant shade shrubs for Lago Vista, TX.
June 24, 2010 - I purchased a home in Lago Vista, Tx. It has a very shady front yard. I want to plant some blooming shrubs that THE DEER WON'T EAT! I would prefer native plants for the area. What should I look f...
view the full question and answer

Native moss to fill in between flagstones
April 21, 2008 - I live in Houston and have a long, narrow flagstone path that runs along the east side of the house. I am looking for a native moss that can fill in between the flagstones and will tolerate morning su...
view the full question and answer

Evergreens for privacy in VA
June 24, 2012 - I need fast growing evergreens or large shrubs, flowering or non-flowering, for privacy. They will need to flourish among large oak and hickory trees that are 75 plus years old. We don't want to dama...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center