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 28, 2008

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Narrow, evergreen shrub for privacy
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in San Antonio and my backyard is all driveway except for a 2-3' space in front of a 6 ft chain fence. I'd like to find an evergreen narrow shrub for privacy. Would Nandina be a good choice? I need something fast growing, narrow, and not decidious.


Mr. Smarty Plants says:  "No! no! no!  not Nandina!"  Nandina domestica (heavenly bamboo) is an invasive non-native plant from China and Japan and we would never recommend using it in landscaping.   Below are some beautiful, evergreen native alternatives.  Your best bets are probably the first two.  They will provide the thickest screen and they can be trimmed to keep them from becoming too wide for the area:

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) and more information from the Aggie Horticulture Database.

Morella cerifera [syn. Myrica cerifera] (wax myrtle) and more information from the Aggie Horticulture Database.

The next two are a bit slower growing, but trim well into a hedge:

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) with more information from the Aggie Horticulture Database

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) with more information from the Aggie Horticulture Database.

The final two make a prickly evergreen hedge—in case you wanted to keep the neighbors from walking through it:

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) and more from the Aggie Horticulture Database.

Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry) and more from the Aggie Horticulture Database

Leucophyllum frutescens

Morella cerifera

Ilex vomitoria

Rhus virens

Mahonia trifoliolata

Mahonia swaseyi



More Shrubs Questions

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

Growing Sophora gypsophila from seed
April 23, 2008 - Sophora gypsophila B.L. Turner & Powell Do you have any information on growing this small tree from seed? I have a few seeds and would like to try. What conditions break seed dormancy? I have grown ...
view the full question and answer

Survivability of plants after freeze
December 08, 2003 - I have many beautiful plants that froze. Some were Lantana, Hummingbird Bush, Candlestick Trees, Esperanza, Some flowers, and Marigolds. I love all of my plants and flowers and I want them to grow bac...
view the full question and answer

Brown leaves on possumhaw holly in Grandview TX
July 02, 2009 - What would be likely causes for brown leaves on possumhaw holly? We have 2, one was planted in spring 2008, and a slightly larger one planted late winter/early spring this year. Most of the leaves a...
view the full question and answer

Five-eight foot hedge for north Texas
September 06, 2013 - I am looking to find a fairly large (preferably flowering) shrub / hedge to go along 100 feet of fence. The plants will be facing Northeast, but will be for the most part under the branches of crape m...
view the full question and answer

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