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

Wednesday - June 17, 2009

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Low privacy hedge in Houston
Answered by: Janice Kvale


I am looking for a fast growing, dense (for privacy) shrub/s or plants, that will get at least 3-4+ feet high for a mostly shady area. Thanks.


Let's see: fast growing, dense, shady, and relatively short. Got it. Our suggestions are for lower growing shrubs that do well in shade (less than 2 hours sun daily) or part shade (2-6 hours sun daily). Most are fast growing and most are attractive to birds or butterflies. Only evergreen shrubs are included to ensure year-round privacy. The above-noted constraints limited our list. We suggest that you select one species and use that for the entire length of your planting.

Read detailed descriptions for these perennials at our website and look for others that may strike your fancy. Go to Explore Plants and then Native Plant Database. From there you may click on Combination Search. Then select your location, General Appearance (type of plant desired), and Life Span. Check the requirements of your site: light and moisture level of soil. When you have made your decision, go back to Explore Plants and click on Suppliers to find a source in your area for your selection. Alternatively you can find detail on specific shrubs at Native Plant Project, a site that also covers planting shrubs. Here are our suggestions:

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita), looks a bit like holly, 3-6 ft, dense, part shade or shade. Sweet smelling yellow blossoms develop into edible red berries. Armed with thorns.

Coursetia axillaris (Texas babybonnets), fast growing, dense, 5-7 ft. part shade.

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow), spreading dense shrub, 2-9 ft., shade or part shade, red or white flowers.

Thelypteris kunthii (Kunth's maiden fern), dense, 2 1/2 - 5 ft, shade or part shade. no flowers.


Mahonia trifoliolata

Coursetia axillaris

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Thelypteris kunthii




More Privacy Screening Questions

Evergreen for privacy screen in San Antonio
April 30, 2012 - I am looking to plant native fast-growing evergreens that will provide privacy (growing taller than our fence). We live in San Antonio and the Red Tip Photinia seems to be everywhere! I heard that t...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant screening evergreens for CT
April 07, 2010 - I live in Connecticut, in a predominantly wooded environment. I am looking for a recommendation for a great screening tree, which I can use to block a view of Neighbors behind me. It would need to b...
view the full question and answer

Need trees to screen view of parking garage in Houston, TX.
December 29, 2011 - We live in Houston, TX with a beautiful lot except a 4 story parking garage has been built behind us. How can we screen this and the lights out of site. It looks terrible from the second story espec...
view the full question and answer

Seven foot privacy fence in Tucson
November 25, 2014 - I am looking for a privacy hedge for a home in Tucson, Arizona that will be in full sun. Needs to be at least seven foot tall and low water and maintenance. Any suggestions.
view the full question and answer

Need shrubs for a privacy screen in Glendale CA
October 30, 2014 - Dear. Mr. Smarty Plants I need to grow a tall hedge 15-20 feet minimum to block a condo complex which overlooks my back yard. I need a fast growing hedge which is non toxic to dogs and one which roo...
view the full question and answer

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