En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Sun and shade landscaping in Coppell TX
April 03, 2011 - My two-story home in Coppell Texas faces north. The houses are ten feet apart. The sun leaves the front yard late-0ctober/early-November. It is March 24 and the beds are still in house shade. In s...
view the full question and answer

Partial shade plants for underneath ash tree in Tarrant County, Texas
April 20, 2011 - I have a BIG Ash Tree in my front yard that blocks out most afternoon sun. I generally get morning and evening sun. I am looking for something to plant around the base of the tree so my yard doesn'...
view the full question and answer

North-central Texas shrubs for part-shade
March 30, 2011 - I need a shrub that will be OK in shade (2-3 hrs a day max.), in fairly well-drained soil, will grow to around 8 ft. tall and 4-6 wide, for the region between Denton and Gainesville. If it flowers, al...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant, shade tolerant foundation plants for Kerrville TX
March 30, 2013 - I'm looking for foundation plants for shade that are deer resistant. Tall as well as medium height.
view the full question and answer

Landscaping with wildflowers in shade in Maryland
January 11, 2008 - I'm an old White House Correspondent who covered LBJ as well as Mrs Johnson and knew and admired her. I visited the Wildflower Center with her on one occasion. I hope you will forward this to an appr...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center