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Mr. Smarty Plants - Cenizo for border of school garden from Cedar Park TX

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Monday - January 27, 2014

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pollinators, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Shrubs
Title: Cenizo for border of school garden from Cedar Park TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi. We're starting a school garden in Central Texas, and instead of building a fence along one side, we'd like to plant a hedge. Ideally, it would grow tall enough to deter deer from jumping over, be drought tolerant (it is full sun, but there are sprinklers, I believe), evergreen, and perhaps not attract bees. I love the idea of Texas sage, but I wonder if a 60' hedge of it would attract huge amounts of bees. Do you have any other suggestions? Thank you!

ANSWER:

We feel that Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo) is an excellent choice for your purpose. Follow that plant link  to our webpage on the plant where you will learn it requires low water and can bloom (dependent on the amount of rain it gets) 12 months out of the year. See these Growing Conditions:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Rocky, well-drained soils. Limestone-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type
Conditions Comments: According to legend, cenizo tends to bloom in conjunction with rainfall. Cenizo is easy to grow so long as it has good drainage. Though this species is the most irrigation-tolerant of the genus, it is susceptible to cotton root rot if soil does not have good drainage and remains moist. Humidity and high night temperatures are lethal. Cenizos should not be fertilized or over-watered. Drought- and heat-tolerant. During very cold winters, may lose a few leaves."

Now let's look at the possibility of attracting bees. You need to realize that all vascular plants must bloom in some form in order to propagate themselves and must also have pollinators for the same reason. Acording to this website, North American Butterfly Association on pollinators of Cenizo, it attracts many pollnators but not necessarily all butterflies. So, when it is blooming, and if it is at a time of year when the bees are active, there are going to be honeybees visiting it. From the Art of Beekeeping - The Honeyplants and Times of Central Texas, Cenizo is not considered a major nectar source. So,we don't think you should discard the possibility of using this shrub on the grounds of attracting bees. 

On the question of water, we very much hope the shrub will NOT be in the range of sprinkler systems. This is a dry ground desert plant, and regular sprinkler waterings can literally drown its roots. Read again "Condition Comments," above, from our webpage on this plant.

Finally, the subject of thwarting deer from jumping over the hedge. Again, following this link, Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo), look under BENEFITS and you will see this plant is highly deer resistant. The deer just don't care for it, but if conditions are very bad they will eat nearly anything that doesn't run away to keep from starving. That doesn't mean the cenizo will repel the deer. On that same webpage in the first paragraph, here is the best information on the size of Cenizo:

"Typically a compact shrub, 2-5 ft. tall, Texas barometer-bush or cenizo occasionally reaches 8 ft. in height, and 4-6 ft. in width."

Deer will ordinarily only be out at night, when there should be no school children endangered by jumping deer, so it's more a matter of whether there is anything inside that barrier that would attract the deer to jump in. Lush tropical plants and  tender flowering trees in that school yard might attract them but deer generally don't care for grasses.

The Cenizo certainly sounds good to us, as it is one of our favorite plants, but only those making the plans can really make the decision.

 

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