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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - May 15, 2014

From: Tampa, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Privacy Hedge Suggestions for Tampa, Florida
Answered by: Anne Van Nest


My back wall is made of stone and is about 6' high. We are very close to a busy road. I need a plant that will reach about 7-8 feet high or a hedge to reduce some of the noise. What plant/hedge would you recommend? I live in Tampa, FL so it is very hot during the summer months.


The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plants Database.  There are two ways to find potential plants. Either use the Combination Search feature or the Recommended Species. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.
Under Combination Search, select the following categories: State – Florida, Habit – Tree (or Shrub), Duration – Perennial, Light Requirement – Sun. 
Under the Recommended Species list, select Central Florida, then sort by height - 6-12 feet.
These search criteria will give you a list of plants to consider. Follow each plant link to our webpage for that plant to learn its growing conditions, bloom time, etc. At the bottom of each plant webpage, under Additional Resources, there is a link to the USDA webpage for that plant. Take a look there for more specific details about suitability before you put them on your final planting list.

Trees and shrubs that grow to 6-12 feet tall for consideration in Central Florida:

Asimina obovata (Bigflower pawpaw)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Common buttonbush)

Dodonaea viscosa (Florida hopbush)

Ilex glabra (Inkberry)

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)

Vaccinium stamineum (Deerberry)

Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis (Common elderberry)

Quercus chapmanii (Chapman oak)

Ilex verticillata (Common winterberry)

When selecting your screening plants, consider the foliage type (evergreen vs. deciduous) and the soil moisture levels. Some of the above plants prefer more moist vs. dryer soils. Try to pick the plants that best match your garden conditions with their natural environment. Also Ilex verticillata and Ilex glabra are dioecious and needs both a male and female plant for the best fruiting.


From the Image Gallery

Common elderberry
Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis

Vaccinium stamineum

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Ilex glabra

Florida hopbush
Dodonaea viscosa

Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Common winterberry
Ilex verticillata

More Shrubs Questions

Roses for Austin soil
May 01, 2014 - What roses would work in the soil near Lake Austin Spa?
view the full question and answer

Trees & Shrubs for a NY Slope
July 03, 2012 - Our community has a large steep slope (100'high by at least 600' wide) that is sunny & dry. The builders planted "wild flower seeds" on the slope that is now just weeds. We would like to know what...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen shrubs for Butler PA
August 09, 2013 - Here is what I want in a bush: native to Western Pa.(Southern Butler County), appropriate for a horse pasture,fast growing, not too aggressive (I will mow around it regularly and can prune occasionall...
view the full question and answer

Low water hedge for Sedona, AZ
August 19, 2009 - I'm looking for a shrub to plant along a 90' property line with my neighbor in Sedona, Arizona (high desert). Ideally, the shrub would grow to about 8' and would not require too much water. What wo...
view the full question and answer

Western Azalea (Rhododendron occidentale) for Southern California
May 04, 2006 - Are there any fragrant varieties of azalea that will grow in Southern California? There are some wonderful native azaleas I found in North Carolina, such as the r. alabamense and r. atlanticum. I h...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center