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

Friday - March 27, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Privacy hedge for shady area
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We are looking to plant a privacy hedge around the perimeter of our yard that will grow to 6 or 8 feet tall - some of the perimeter is exposed to sun and we will likely go with evergreen sumac - however, a large part of the perimeter is in the shade of some live oak trees - what can we plant that will form a fast growing, 6ft tall, dense hedge in the shade? Thank you.


Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) is certainly a good choice for the sunny areas and it will actually grow in part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day).  It is an understory shrub in many areas. 

Here are some other possibilities:

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) is another reasonably fast-growing evergreen that will grow in part shade. If you decide on this species, you should be aware that there are dwarf varieties of this species available and check carefully before you purchase your plants.

Condalia hookeri (Brazilian bluewood) is a thicket-forming shrub or small tree that grows in part shade and has a moderate growth rate.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) will grow in full shade (<2 hours sun per day) or partial shade, but its growth rate is moderate.   

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) grows in partial shade but is slow-growing.

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) will also grow in partial shade but is slow-growing.  It spiny leaves would discourage any entry through the hedge.

The growth rate of any of these, of course, will be affected by the general growing conditions—soil type, availability of water, and amount of sunlight.


Rhus virens

Morella cerifera

Condalia hookeri

Ilex vomitoria

Sophora secundiflora

Mahonia trifoliolata




More Shade Tolerant Questions

Native violets under maples from Gettysburg PA
July 06, 2012 - Just for your info (no need to post or reply), I saw an old post of a question of something to grow under maples. In central PA, native violets grow very well under several species of maples in lawns...
view the full question and answer

Native Plants for Shaded North Slope in Ohio
January 03, 2013 - I have a shaded north hillside which needs erosion control plants. Mostly moss and very thin grass grows there now. Please help!
view the full question and answer

Silverleaf Nightshade, Happy in El Paso Texas
June 14, 2011 - Trying to identify a small wildflower all over in our El Paso neighborhood. Lavender bloom, five pointed petals, Star pattern inside, five bright yellow pistols. Beautiful. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Need plants for shade in Arizona.
May 15, 2009 - Please suggest plants that I can plant in a shaded area. I live in Glendale, Arizona. The shade will be 100% of the time.
view the full question and answer

Vines for shade in North-Central Georgia
August 07, 2009 - I am looking for something to hide a 6' wood fence that will grow in almost full shade. I have an area approx 2 feet wide to plant in. Since the fence and planting areas are stepped -- about 8 feet f...
view the full question and answer

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