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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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Saturday - January 31, 2009

From: Aledo, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Native shrubs to replace non-native boxwood in Parker County, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm looking to replace some Japanese Boxwoods my wife planted years ago with some native plants, they run along the front of our house next to the foundation and porch about 60' in length. I prefer plants under 3' to avoid pruning, and would like to plant a variety. FYI we live just inside Parker County with the Black Land Prairie Clay/Dirt and the boxwoods have done fine they just don't go with the ranch style updates we've made.

ANSWER:

We're really very happy to hear you are replacing those non-native plants with natives; while neither of them are invasive, they nevertheless don't do as well in Texas as a plant native to the area. Your boxwood is probably Buxus microphylla, native to Japan and Taiwan.  Buxus sempervirens, sometimes referred to as "American boxwood," is actually native to England, Europe, Asia, Africa and Morocco. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we believe you are much better off with plants native not only to North America but to North Central Texas.

We will go to our Recommended Plants section, click on North Central Texas, NARROW YOUR SEARCH, clicking on "Shrubs" under Habit. Since we don't know what your sun exposure or soil moisture is, we will not check those, but you can go back later and make your own selections. These plants are all commercially available, and if you have difficulty locating them, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in your town and state in the Enter Search Location box, and you'll get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape and environmental consultants in your general area. We recommend that you get these shrubs planted soon, as woody plants are much better planted in cool weather, when they are semi-dormant. We also think it would be a good idea to freshen up the dirt in the holes where you have removed the boxwood; add some compost or other organic material to provide nutrition and also to make trace minerals in the soil available to the roots of the plants. 

It turns out there is actually a native plant, Paxistima myrsinites (Oregon boxleaf), which has "boxwood" as one of its common names. It is not related to the non-native boxwoods, and grows pretty low, but at least take a look at it, it has a rather nice appearance. Although it is called "Oregon boxleaf" in our Native Plant Database, it is also native to Texas. We have chosen evergreen shrubs, and some (for instance, yaupon) ordinarily grow taller than your specified heights, but dwarf or smaller cultivars may be available. These shrubs are Ilex vomitoria (yaupon), Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry) and Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita)


Paxistima myrsinites

Ilex vomitoria

Mahonia swaseyi

Mahonia trifoliolata

 

 


 

 

 

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