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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - December 14, 2008

From: Marble Falls, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Living fence of native plants in Central Texas
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I would like to plant a living fence around my property in central Texas. What trees/plants will survive the Texas weather best without taking years to provide visual shield?


The best way to find plants that will survive Texas weather is to use plants native to the area in which they are being grown. We have selected six plants native to Central Texas, all of which can be trained up to small trees or allowed to remain as shrubs, for greater privacy. All are evergreen except for Ilex decidua (possumhaw), which displays red berries all winter. Both of the members of the Ilex genus and the wax myrtle have berries only on the female plant, and must have a male of the same species within 30 to 40 feet to in order to produce berries. These plants are all moderate in growth rate, with the exception of the Mahonia, which tend to be a little slower-growing. They are all commercially available, and if you have any difficulty locating a source, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape consultants in your general area. From right now until February would be a good time to plant these woody plants, permitting them to get their roots established before the Texas heat arrives. 

Ilex decidua (possumhaw) - deciduous, females with persistent bright red berries in winter

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - evergreen, females with bright red berries

Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry) 3 to 4 ft. tall, evergreen

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) - 3 to 6 ft. tall, evergreen

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) - 8 to 12 ft. tall, evergreen

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - 6 to 12 ft. tall, evergreen, fragrant foliage, attractive to birds

Ilex decidua

Ilex decidua

Ilex vomitoria

Mahonia swaseyi

Mahonia trifoliolata

Rhus virens

Morella cerifera

Morella cerifera



More Trees Questions

Young Maple Dropping Leaves in Late Summer
September 05, 2013 - I have a 6-year-old maple tree. I'm not sure what type it is as the builder planted it. It is as tall as our two-story house and very healthy. It's the biggest tree in our neighborhood because we fe...
view the full question and answer

Fastest growing shade tree for Austin.
April 27, 2015 - What is the fastest growing shade tree suitable for Austin? We are anticipating selling or renting our house in two to three years and want a shade tree for a baked full sun area of the yard that will...
view the full question and answer

Is western soapberry (Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii) dioecious?
February 15, 2008 - Hi! I found different information on the flowering habits of the western soapberry, Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii. Is it dioecious or polygamo-dioecious or none of them? I have some little seed...
view the full question and answer

Want a source for Mexican redbud in Houston, TX
October 04, 2010 - I live in west Houston and would like to purchase and plant a Mexican redbud in my yard. I have Googled to find one and also searched the Growit site without success. Where can I find one in Texas? I ...
view the full question and answer

Positioning a bald cypress among cattails in Silver Spring MD
April 30, 2009 - We have a rain garden, half of which is fairly overrun with broad- and narrow-leaf cattails. We've learned to be aggressive in thinning these out 2 to 3 times during the growing season. We also have ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center