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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.

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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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Wednesday - June 17, 2009

From: Kyle, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Hedge in central Texas
Answered by: Janice Kvale

QUESTION:

Help, my oleanders are dying. I am in need of hedge suggestions- ideal would be quick growing, maybe 8-12 feet at their tallest. I live in Central Texas.

ANSWER:

While we are sorry for the loss of the oleanders, beautiful as they can be, you may be better off with native Texas shrubs even if you must wait for them to grow. Oleanders are native to the Middle East and Asia and moderately toxic to humans and animals. Plants that are exotic to our region tend to not be as hardy as natives. Check out information on why native plants are preferred on our website.

At the same site, different location, you may read detailed descriptions of the shrubs we suggest. Click on Explore Plants, then Native Plant Database. Then click on Combination Search. Select your location, General Appearance (type of plant desired), and Life Span. Check the requirements of your site: light and soil moisture. Use the same database to find Suppliers for your choice.

Though you did not mention the specifics of your site, we tend to think of central Texas as fairly hot, sunny and dry. All of the shrubs suggested are native and may attract birds and butterflies.

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) is one of the faster growing shrubs. The height starts at 6 feet and could go to 20 feet, but dwarf varieties are available. It likes sandy, moist soil, but will tolerate drought once established.

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) is a slower growing evergreen shrub with glossy leaves. It ranges between 6-12 feet in height.

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac) is about the same height as the previous sumac but faster growing. It tends to form a thicket.

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac) is another fast growing sumac, 6-12 feet in height, and looks best in natural settings.

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) is a slow grower that may be worth waiting for. It produces showy fragrant lavendar blossoms in the spring yielding a toxic red berry. Listed at 10-20 feet, it ends up  comparable in height to the oleander.

Ungnadia speciosa (Mexican buckeye) is another showy bloomer. While it can reach 30 feet, it generally hovers between 8-12 feet tall. The seeds are mildly toxic.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) is a picturesque, holly-like shrub that may be trimmed into a lovely hedge. Dwarf varieties may be available. The female plant produces bright red berries.

 


Morella cerifera

Rhus virens

Rhus aromatica

Rhus glabra

Sophora secundiflora

Ungnadia speciosa

Ilex vomitoria
 

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