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?

Share

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 - August 19, 2009

From: alexandria, VA
Region: Select Region
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Shrub for barrier fence in Alexandria, Virginia
Answered by: Janice Kvale

QUESTION:

Hi. we need plants to act as a barrier fence, 15 feet tall, partial shade. We are considering a holly or virginia magnolia. What can you suggest? thank you, Nikita

ANSWER:

You are definitely on the right track! Either one of these small trees grouped together would provide a tall, natural fence-like display. Because both are native perennials to your area, they are likely to be disease resistant and hardy. Both are popular landscape plants and should be easily located in local nurseries. Check our list of suppliers to find one. Let's look at each of these trees in detail.

Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay) produces fragrant, 4-6 in. white flowers which are open during daylight in the long, hot summer. Its attractive, glossy leaves are evergreen in the south. It likes a lot of water and thrives in part-shade. The growth rate is slow to moderate eventually topping out between 12-20 ft. Find more information about this tree at our wildflower site, Flora of North America, and USDA,

Ilex opaca (American holly) grows slowly to a range between 12-36 ft. tall. It thrives in part shade with medium water use. The female tree produces small white blossoms from March through June. Both male and female specimens are necessary for blossoms. With multiple plants in a hedge having both types should not be a problem. The lovely red berries amid the pointy green leaves are characteristic of the popular holly decorations used for the December holidays. Note that the berries may be toxic to humans if ingested, though the birds and butterflies find them quite to their liking. Read more about this tree at our wildflower site and USDA.

Two other possibilities for consideration are Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw) and  Rhododendron maximum (great laurel). Both grow well in part shade and are attractive to birds. Rhododendron maximum (great laurel) is evergreen and will grow to 15 ft.  Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw) will also reach 15 ft. but is considered deciduous. Any one of these four will provide you with a long lasting barrier fence.

 


Magnolia virginiana

Ilex opaca

Viburnum prunifolium

Rhododendron maximum
 

More Shrubs Questions

Cenizo for border of school garden from Cedar Park TX
January 27, 2014 - Hi. We're starting a school garden in Central Texas, and instead of building a fence along one side, we'd like to plant a hedge. Ideally, it would grow tall enough to deter deer from jumping over, b...
view the full question and answer

Black chokeberry edible from Huntsville ON
May 04, 2013 - Can the fruit of the black chokeberry be eaten??
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control for a Shaded Slope in Aliquippa PA
May 07, 2014 - What plants. shrubs or trees can I plant to retard soil erosion on a steep shaded hillside in PA
view the full question and answer

Lantana failing to bloom from Tampa FL
October 04, 2012 - I reside in central Florida. I have planted several lantana the orange,red,yellow type. I don't have proper species name. They have been in the ground 3 weeks with 2" of potting soil around root ba...
view the full question and answer

Yucca blades damaged by weedeater in Hellertown PA
July 05, 2011 - Can I cut off the blades of a Yucca plant that have been eaten on the edges with a weed wacker and are very unsightly looking? Can they be cut back to the flower shaft?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center