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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.

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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.

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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!

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Thursday - January 06, 2005

From: Baltimore, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native Littleleaf Boxwood and native alternatives for Baltimore
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am looking for a small hedge or shrub, that will look nice year round, and won't get too large. I live in Baltimore, MD. I have heard of Winter Gem Boxwood. Will this prove hardy in my area? How would I care for it best to ensure proper growth? Is there something else you would recommend? It cannot be harmful to dogs and I'm not looking for something that would draw bees or other annoying insects (butterflies are OK).

ANSWER:

Winter Gem Boxwood or Littleleaf Boxwood (Buxus microphylla) is very cold hardy and seems to fit your other criteria. It does, however, have fragrant flowers and will attract bees and other insects when it is in bloom. You can read all about Buxus microphylla at Floridata Marketplace.

Since Buxus microphyllais not a native (it comes from Japan), you might like to consider something native to your area. You can do an Advanced Search for plants native to Maryland using several characteristics (such as Growth Form, Growing Conditions, etc.) in the Native Plants Database on the Wildflower Center web page. Here are three possibilities you can read about:

1. Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia).

2. Leather leaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata). Our web page doesn't show a picture, but you can see one in the USDA Plants Database.

3. Wax Myrtle (Morella cerifera).

You can find suppliers of native plants in your area on the Wildflower Center web page by selecting "Explore Plants" from the side bar and then choosing "Suppliers Directory". You will then be able to search "Nurseries" and/or "Seed Companies" for suppliers of native plants in your state or region.
 

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