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?

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
    
 
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
3 ratings

Thursday - November 20, 2008

From: Spring, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Evergreen native shrubs for hedge in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Please help! Looking for an inexpensive, fast growing shrub or tree to plant along 200' fence in our backyard. Lots of sun (southwest side) but I wouldn't call it dry. Hoping for something that keeps leaves all year round, we have a pool also and don't want to clean up after yet one more type (oaks & pines are enough). Non-poisonous (we have kids) and not ligustrum (I'm allergic). Animals are not a problem, would love something with flowers. Is that too much to ask?

ANSWER:

We'll look for evergreen shrubs that fill most of your requirements, and you can pick one and repeat it all the way down the 200' involved. We could only find two that were evergreen and not considered poisonous or dangerous to children.  These shrubs should all be widely available in your area, and as inexpensive as possible. Follow each plant link to our Native Plant Database page on that plant, see how tall you can expect them to get, what sun or shade they will tolerate, etc. Also, at the bottom of each plant page is a link to a Google search on that plant, so you can pick up even more information. We chose from both our East Texas Recommended Species and Central Texas Recommended Species, as Spring is kind of on the dividing line between the two.

One warning, though: No matter how drought resistant a plant may be, they will need some watering in the first few months after they are planted. Hopefully, you are planning to plant them between now and February, during their dormant periods, but they will still need water, and may need it continuing into the hot season if you are not getting fairly regular rain. If you have trouble finding them, check with our Native Plant Suppliers. Type your town and state in the Enter Search Location box and you will get the names of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape consultants in your general area.

We would not have recommended ligustrum anyway, as it is non-native to North America, but rather originating in China and Japan. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is all about the use, protection and propagation of native plants. They are adapted to the area in which they are being grown, and thus should require less water, fertilizer and maintenance. We chose only evergreen shrubs, per your request, but you need to remember that all plants will drop some leaves from time to time, replacing them with new leaves, but it won't be like the oaks, dumping huge leaves all at once.  Unfortunately, shrubs and trees with showy flowers tend to be deciduous, but all plants have flowers of some sort, as that is part of their reproduction system. 

Our first selection is Morella cerifera (wax myrtle). This attractive, light shrub has fragrant foliage, and attracts a number of different birds. The other is Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush). Often called cenizo, this plant provides a backdrop of soft, gray green leaves to the luscious pinky-purple blooms. Blooms can pop out on this bush almost any time of the year when there has been rain, and it makes a nice hedge. Just don't trim it too much, or you'll lose some of the flowers to overcrowding and shading. 


Morella cerifera

Morella cerifera

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

 

 

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Identification of mystery shrub in West Virginia
August 13, 2007 - Hi, my husband and I purchased some land to build a home. After we dug out the driveway a large shrub or tree started growing in the altered dirt that I have never seen and I don't know what it is. I...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Evergreen Sumac
December 09, 2015 - I would like to transplant evergreen sumac from my back to the front yard. They are about 6-8 foot tall. I live in El Paso, TX and it gets plenty of sunlight. I am wondering 1) Is November in El Paso,...
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming or fruiting Oregon grape holly in Elmhurst IL
May 14, 2010 - I have an Oregon grape holly bush that has never bloomed and has never had fruit. I have had the bush for at least 6 years, it is approximately 5 ft tall. Have had no problems, just no flowers/fruit....
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of lantanas in San Antonio
July 22, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, We have lantanas in our front yard. This summer the leaves have turned white and they die to a brown color all the while the leaves are "crispy". At the beginning of the season...
view the full question and answer

Poverty plant overgrown in Austin
June 06, 2012 - We have a poverty plant that is too big for its space in our yard. We like it and want to keep it. Can it be transplanted easily? What about pruning it.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center