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
8 ratings

Tuesday - April 14, 2009

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Need substitute plants for Red Tip Photinia in San Antonio.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


Looking to replace Red Tips with major leaf spot infections. Need about third replaced. What suggestions would you have to replace these privacy hedge row type plants? Need a plant that will grow at least 5 feet tall. The plants are provided with water by a drip sprinkler system. Thank You.


Red Tip Photinia (Photinia x Fraseri) in a non native plant, however it has been widely used as a hedging plant through out the south. With  the spread of the fungal disease Entomosporium leaf spot, many hedges have died or are dying out.

There are several options for replacing the Photinias, and Mr. Smarty Plants hopes that you will choose native species that are better adapted to your area. You can go to our Recommended Species page  and select Central Texas on the map. Click on NARROW YOUR SEARCH, and make the following selections: select Texas under state, Shrub under Habit, Perennial under Duration, and Sun under Light Requirement. Click the Narrow Your Search button and you will get a list of plants to choose from for your hedge. You can alter the list by changing the selected items.

Here are some suggestions from that list:

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - evergreen

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) - evergreen

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - evergreen, fragrant foliage

Osmanthus americanus (devilwood) - evergreen

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) - evergreen, handsome hedge plant

This Clemson University Extension website thouroughly discusses Photinia, its culture, its problems, and recommended substitutes, although several of their suggestions are non natives. Of particular interest for your situation is the section on Mixed Screens.

Ilex vomitoria

Leucophyllum frutescens

Morella cerifera

Osmanthus americanus


Prunus caroliniana

More Trees Questions

Ostrya virginiana Compatible with Juglone
May 17, 2015 - Is Ostrya virginiana sensitive to juglone?
view the full question and answer

What plants grow well in Athens, TX?
January 18, 2011 - Athens, Texas, we have very sandy soil mixed with clay, what plants grow well here?
view the full question and answer

Driveway through a cluster of Oak trees
June 16, 2015 - Construction of a cement driveway through an 8 tree cluster of escarpment oaks is going to require removal of 2 trees in the center. How can this be done without causing damage to remaining trees? Als...
view the full question and answer

Life expectancy for Ulmus crassifolia
June 21, 2007 - What is the life expectancy for a cedar elm? We live in Austin, and the tree was likely here before the house, which was built in 1939.
view the full question and answer

Tall screening tree for Santa Barbara, California
August 20, 2011 - Hi, we live in Santa Barbara, California. We are looking for a tree between 20-30 feet high to block the neighbors two-story house yet the area we have to plant is 3 feet from the fence to the drivewa...
view the full question and answer

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