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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.

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Monday - May 11, 2009

From: Charlotte, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Shrubs meeting homeowners assoc. requirements in Charlotte NC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am doing my darndest to establish a bird and bee friendly patch of earth here in Charlotte, NC, but I'm having a terrible time finding a shrub that matches my homeowners' association requirements. I finally got permission to pull out the builder boxwoods and hollies, and they want me to put in a line of evergreen bushes. I really want a native plant, but I can't find one that won't grow over about 3 feet. The area gets full sun all day long and is on a slope, so it's hot and dry. I'm planning to put a cutting garden around the bushes, so it'll get a good watering once a week or so. I don't mind trimming once or maybe twice a year, but I don't want anything that has to be babied along. Secretly, I'm hoping to find a plant that isn't in every other yard in Charlotte (I can do azaleas if I absolutely have to, but I'd rather not). Can you help me?

ANSWER:

We wouldn't recommend azaleas, either. There are azaleas native to the American South, but there are also a lot of hybrids and non-natives being sold. The main problem in your situation is that you have full sun and azaleas usually need shade (less than 2 hours of sun a day) to part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day). To our knowledge, there are very few evergreen shrubs native to your area that grow no more than 3 ft. tall; however, there are dwarf cultivars or selections of several. We will give you links to some websites discussing those shrubs. These are all evergreen, have berries and attract birds, and can be pruned, if necessary to keep within a required height. You might also be interested in reading our How-To Article Butterfly Gardening.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) dwarf selections:

'Stokes Dwarf'- North Carolina State University

'Nana' North Carolina State University

'Schillings Dwarf'   University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) dwarf selections:

Morella pumilla - Duke University

'Don's Dwarf' - Magnolia Nurseries

 

 

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