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?

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
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
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

Shrubs not toxic to cattle in NJ
December 09, 2013 - I am working to rejuvenate the hedgerows on a farm in New Jersey by removing invasive plants and planting native shrubs. How do I find out which native shrubs are toxic to cattle and should not be pl...
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native Buddha Belly bamboos
November 08, 2014 - I have several budha belly bamboos. They froze down last winter. I have got them back to 5 ft. I need them around 8-10 for privacy. Any suggestions? Also how to I protect them this winter?
view the full question and answer

Shrubs to grow in a narrow area no taller than 3 ft. in Cadiz, KY.
May 27, 2011 - I need to plant shrubs in a narrow area between my house and sidewalk. I have a low porch so I want the shrub to grow no taller than 3 ft. What do you recommend? It is in full sun.
view the full question and answer

Are Chickasaw plums evergreen?
August 13, 2014 - Are Chickasaw Plums evergreens? I've been very interested in planting a few but some websites say they are evergreens while others say the opposite. Furthermore, would I have to plant a male and fema...
view the full question and answer

Planting non-native sago palm and philodendron from Pflugerville TX
September 15, 2012 - I have a small/young sago palm and philodendron I'd like to plant. Do you advise to plant them now with fall/winter approaching or wait until next spring.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center