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

Perennial summer blooming plant for Livonia, MI
May 22, 2009 - I want to find a plant that I can cut back in the fall, will come back in the spring, flower throughout the summer, be a medium size plant, no taller than 48", about 36" in diameter. It would get f...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a windbreak on a slope in OH
April 20, 2011 - Have property at the top of a valley with a steep drop off. Would like to know native to NE Ohio ground covers, grasses perennials, and not too tall trees for windbreak that will prevent erosion. The ...
view the full question and answer

Growing Evergreen sumac in clay soil of Texas
August 19, 2011 - I'm in need of a fast growing evergreen screening shrub/small tree. I'm considering the Evergreen Sumac but before I go further I need to know if this plant will thrive and remain evergreen in the D...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Citrus Suckers
October 06, 2014 - Mr. Smarty Plants, you are the only person that has "not" insisted that the little balls on Satsuma and lemon trees were clumps of bugs. They are surely what you described in the answer to my previo...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen native shrubs in Long Island, NY
April 17, 2009 - I would like to plant evergreen bushes (or trees)against my house facing north with no sun and growing no taller than 4 feet high. Any suggestions? I live in Coram, Long Island, New York
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