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?

Share

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
1 rating

Thursday - April 09, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Shrubs
Title: Hedge for Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi. I live in West Austin and am having trouble finding plants for our heavily shaded yard (thanks to our beautiful large live oaks). I love glossy, dark green leaves and big flowers. I love the camellias, but heard they don't do well here in Austin. What about Cleyera? I would love a nice dark green glossy hedge, preferably with some large flowers; but one that would do well without much maintenance here in Austin.

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower is dedicated to the care, preservation and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. A plant already accustomed to an area's climate, rainfall and soil will be much more likely to prosper with less water, fertilizer and maintenance. 

Camelia sinensis, is native to China and India. This USDA Plant Profile Map shows it growing only in southeastern coastal states in the United States. Did you know that tea is made from the leaves and buds of this plant? Ternstroemia gymnanthera (Cleyera) is native to China and Japan, has been naturalized in the Southern U.S. and other semi-tropical climates. Both of these plants like moist, acidic soil, which doesn't sound much like Austin's dry, alkaline soil, does it?

To be honest, there really aren't any native shrubs that fit your ideal hedge description. Plants in Central Texas are conditioned to be tougher, with smaller leaves to avoid losing too much precious moisture, and usually small blooms. Further, it's going to be a real challenge to get much of anything to grow in that much shade, especially under live oaks, which are known to produce toxins to discourage competitive plants beneath them, in a process called allelopathy.  

Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia) is native to Texas, has dark, glossy green leaves, big, white fragrant blossoms, and fits your specifications. Of course, it grows from 50 to 100 feet tall, is fairly fast growing, and is not recommended for Central Texas, again, because of its need for moist, acid soil. And the magnolias are even worse than oaks about not letting anything grow under them, and casting deep shade. 

We're going to go to our Native Plant Database, and try to find some shrubs that would make nice, evergreen hedges that would do well in Central Texas. Not knowing the exact layout of your yard, some of these shrubs may need more sun that you have, so we will note the light requirements of each. We consider "shade" to be less than 2 hours a day of sun, "part shade" to be 2 to 6 hours of sun a day, and "sun" 6 or more hours of sun. Follow the plant links to each plant's individual page and learn their expected height, culture, etc. These plants are all commercially available and belong in Central Texas.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - 12 to 25 ft. tall, part shade

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) - 2 to 8 ft. tall, sun, part shade

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

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - 6 to 12 ft. tall, sun, part shade


Ilex vomitoria

Leucophyllum frutescens

Rhus virens

Morella cerifera

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Duplicate of English holly for Eufaula OK
January 03, 2010 - I wish to have a shrub that would duplicate the red berries and foliage of English holly. Tolerance of cultivation is also desired.
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Ageratina havenensis from Magnolia TX
June 18, 2013 - I planted a Eupatorium havanense last year here in the last sandy finger of the piney woods; it gets full sun in a well-drained raised bed, where it flowered well. I pruned it fairly close, and it cam...
view the full question and answer

Native plants that are dog-proof in South Texas
July 13, 2008 - I live in Odem, Texas and would like to use only native plants in my front and backyard. I have two puppies who love to dig. What plants should I use that require minimal attention from me and will no...
view the full question and answer

Male or female Jatropha curcas from Brownsville TX
August 16, 2012 - How do know the sex of a young Jatropha C. plant? how many weeks before you can tell a boy/girl plant ?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center