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
4 ratings

Friday - April 17, 2009

From: Coram, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Evergreen native shrubs in Long Island, NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I would like to plant evergreen bushes (or trees)against my house facing north with no sun and growing no taller than 4 feet high. Any suggestions? I live in Coram, Long Island, New York


Evergreen anything is something of a challenge in your USDA Hardiness Zone of 6a to 7b (-10 to +5 average annual minimum temperature). Finding something tolerant of no sun will be harder still. We are going to our Recommended Species Section, click on New York on the map, Narrow Your Search, and search first on shrubs and then on trees in Habit, with shade as the Light Requirement. We consider full sun to be 6 hours or more of sun a day, part shade 2 to 6 hours of sun, and shade less than 2 hours of sun. The only plant we found that comes close to your specifications is Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick), which we love because of the common name. Anyway, it is evergreen, is a spreading shrub growing only 1 to 3 feet tall, and can tolerate sun, part shade or shade. A couple of trees that are evergreen and can tolerate shade are Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar), but it grows to 30 to 40 feet, and Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae), which under cultivation grows to no more than 30 feet. If you were to plant trees that big, they would need to be some distance from the house, so the roots would not interfere with foundations or basements. Perhaps you will need to make a different plan for that area of your property. 

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Juniperus virginiana

Thuja occidentalis




More Shrubs Questions

Butterfly Bush Alternatives in New Egypt NJ
June 14, 2015 - I have a Non Native Butterfly Bush near my house. I heard that it could be invasive. What alternative plants could replace this bush as it is a butterfly magnet in late summer. Swallowtales and monarc...
view the full question and answer

Privacy hedge for Palm Springs CA
July 04, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants I have a 6 foot block wall, and my house is elevated, and I need a privacy hedge or tree (even flowering) to create more privacy. I do not want to use Ficus as I hear they can d...
view the full question and answer

Foundation Plants for South Carolina
November 07, 2009 - What native plants are suitable as foundation plantings? My soil is heavy clayey loam with red clay subsoil. I live in Charleston County.
view the full question and answer

Origin of name of hybrid Ilex x attenuata
December 11, 2010 - Could you please tell me where Eagleson, or also called Eagleston Holly got its name ?
view the full question and answer

How to Control Poison Ivy
February 22, 2016 - We have lots of Poison Ivy on a site we are clearing it is adjacent to a pond and children are around this area all the time. We are creating hiking paths. I have a lot of experience but I do not wan...
view the full question and answer

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