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

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Saturday - April 19, 2014

From: Larchmont, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Shade tolerant plants for privacy from Larchmont NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Love your site! We have a 4'x4'x50' stone wall, full sun, with a planting bed 30"H by 24"D. We're looking for privacy, so a hedge with pruning is needed. We have looked at Ilex Crenata (8'), Ilex Hetzii 6-8' or Ilex glabra (Inkberry) 6-8' or a Privet hedge, which thrives on abuse. We worry about hot root ball in summer and frozen ball in winter. Soil is well drained. Any suggestions? Many thanks!

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are to be grown; in your case, Westchester County, NY.

Because the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated solely to the study and promotion of native species, we cannot recommend any Ligustrum species or any other non-native plants.  Privets (Ligustrum spp.) are particularly problematic invasive species and should not be planted by anyone.  In many areas, privets have overwhelmed entire ecosystems.  We strongly encourage you not to plant privets on your property.

So, now we will take a look at the other shrubs that you named as prospects.

Ilex glabra (Inkberry) - According to this USDA Plant Profile Map, this holly grows natively on Long Island, very near to Westchester County, so it would probably do fine there. Follow the plant link to our webpage on it for growing conditions, etc.

Both Ilex crenata and Ilex Crenata 'Hetzi' are native to Japan and therefore not in our Native Plant Database.

We will go to our Native Plant Database, scroll down to the Combination Search, selecting on New York, "shrub" for HABIT, "sun" (6 hours or more of sun a day) for LIGHT REQUIREMENTS. Again we will check the USDA Plant Profile Maps on each plant we select to ensure that it will be growing in soil and climate that it can tolerate. This is the beauty of using plants native to an area; you already know they can grow there because they ARE growing there. And please don't worry about hot or frozen root balls; again, these will be plants native to your climate. If it concerns you that your plants will be elevated in a planter box, thus exposing the roots to severe temperature, you can mix some good quality compost into the soil before you put in the plants. As this compost decomposes, it will generate heat to protect in the winter. You can also put some shredded bark mulch on top of the soil, without touching the trunks of the shrubs, which will provide year-round insulation for the roots.

Privacy shrubs for Larchmont, NY:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick)

Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leatherleaf)

Ilex glabra (Inkberry)

Ilex opaca (American holly)

Taxus canadensis (Canada yew)

Vaccinium oxycoccos (Small cranberry)

 

From the Image Gallery


Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Leatherleaf
Chamaedaphne calyculata

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

American holly
Ilex opaca

Canada yew
Taxus canadensis

Small cranberry
Vaccinium oxycoccos

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