Explore Plants

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
    
 

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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - February 10, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Native trees and shrubs for bloom various times of year
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Southwest Austin and have a garden that spans the length of our back fence. It gets approximately 6 hours of sun. We currently have two trees (which we think are Bradford Pears) and three small evergreen shrubs, but the rest of the garden is empty. We'd like to add 1 or 2 more trees, possibly with one that flowers, and would like for them to be fast growers. In front of the trees, we'd like to plant flowering shrubs. Our goal is to block the view of the fence and have plants that bloom at various times of the year. Can you please suggest some varieties that would do well?

ANSWER:

For openers, we are going to recommend only trees and shrubs native to North America and, where possible, native or well-adapted to Central Texas. These are plants that already toughened up and prepared to take whatever Texas weather, soil and wind can do, well, nearly. It's important to us at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center that native plants be used wherever and whenever possible. Doing so can cut down on water, pesticide and fertilizer use and with it, runoff containing things you don't want in your drinking water.

Go to The Pros and Cons of Bradford Pears to determine if that is the tree you already have, just so you'll know what to watch out for. We're certainly not suggesting that you get rid of existing trees just because they are not native. The Bradford Pear is a native of China and Korea, and has some structural weaknesses, due to fast growth and branches growing too close together. So, keep an eye out for problems; the tree may not last past 20 years, but maybe that length of time is enough.

For your specific situation, we are going to suggest not just trees and shrubs but some perennial sub-shrubs or flowering plants to give different levels in height, different textures, different colors and different times of blooming. Because we can't do a comprehensive landscape plan for a piece of land we've never seen, we will make some suggestions and then tell you how to find your own ideas from our Native Plant Database. We first searched on State: Texas, Habit: Tree, Duration: Perennial, Light Requirement: Sun 6 hours or more a day, and Soil Moisture: Dry. You can also add, if you wish: Bloom Characteristics, search by month(s) of bloom and color desired. We should also note that we have grouped Trees and Shrubs together, as many of these will grow and can be pruned to tree shape, but are not tall, while a few will grow really tall, but slowly.

As you can see, the problem is knowing how to start, but not how to stop. These are all personal favorites, but you can certainly find your own personal favorites just as easily. Read the description pages the links will take you to in order to find out when (and if) they bloom, if they attract butterflies, what color the blooms are, what size they are expected to grow to, etc.

TREES AND SHRUBS

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow)

Cotinus obovatus (American smoketree) or Texas Smoketree

Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum)

Quercus fusiformis (plateau oak) or Escarpment Oak

Rhus lanceolata (prairie sumac)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) Flowers and seeds poisonous

Ungnadia speciosa (Mexican buckeye) Mildly poisonous seeds

PERENNIAL FLOWERS AND SUB-SHRUBS

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Callirhoe involucrata (purple poppymallow) or Winecup

Conoclinium greggii (palmleaf thoroughwort) or Gregg's Mistflower

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow) or Turk's Cap

Ratibida columnifera (upright prairie coneflower) or Mexican Hat

Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa (stemmy four-nerve daisy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Pruning Agarita in the Winter
February 18, 2012 - I recently came upon a small grouping of agarita plants that had been somewhat choked by cedar. Having removed the cedar I noticed there were quite a lot of dead branches within the shrubs. Would Fe...
view the full question and answer

Caterpillars attacking mountain laurel in Marble Falls TX
August 27, 2009 - What are the caterpillars that eat up our mountain laurel? Nothing left but a few stems.
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native, invasive Japanese Privet from Peoria AZ
July 31, 2013 - I have Japanese Privit bushes. one out of 6 has started to grow very small leaves and does not look healthy. Moon Valley told me shortage of zinc, but that has not helped in 3 months. What can I ...
view the full question and answer

Beautyberries not poisonous to cats and dogs from Haddonfield NJ
December 11, 2012 - Are beauty berry plants poisonous to cats/dogs? Would like to use branches w/berries and leaves as indoor decorations.
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Narrow, Dry, Shaded Site in Georgia
April 03, 2014 - I am writing from Valdosta, GA. Could you please suggest three perennial shrubs and/or plants that flower at different times of the spring and summer? Also ones that can be planted in a 2 ft. wide s...
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.