En EspaŅol

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
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
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


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?


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

Yellowing of leaves in Texas Mountain Laurel from Austin
June 25, 2012 - I planted a Texas Mountain Laurel in my Austin, TX yard this January. The tree was good sized (about 5 feet tall) when I planted it. Recently the leaves of the tree have started to turn yellow alon...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for Texarkana, TX
March 31, 2011 - I've been searching for a dependable list of attractive north east native plants, for gardens, landscaping, etc. Specifically, native flowers and shrubs.
view the full question and answer

Identification of tree or shrub from Simms TX
February 13, 2011 - Thought you might have the expertise to help identify this tree/shrub? They were planted about 10 years ago and started in a pot about 2 feet high. I have photos but not sure how to send them to you; ...
view the full question and answer

Blocking out noise from pond pump in Holly MI
April 02, 2010 - My neighbor has a motor for his pond pump that faces my backyard--it is extremely loud and irritating after listening to it for 5 hours or more. Is there any type of shrub that I can plant to block o...
view the full question and answer

Tiny red bugs on Mountain Laurel from San Antonio TX
April 02, 2014 - Hordes of solid bright red tiny bugs are all over the bark of my Mountain Laurels. The infestation has me very worried. How can I deal with them? Thank you in advance for helping solve this problem.
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center