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Mr. Smarty Plants - Plants to accompany cactus and agave

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Sunday - October 09, 2005

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Plants to accompany cactus and agave
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What plants would look well with cactus and agave to soften the look of spikiness? Also, a homeowner in our association wants the association to plant a pyracantha at the corner of the street to prevent children from climbing over a tall fence. Is there something that is not quite so formidable (and dangerous) that would still discourage climbers?

ANSWER:

How about Cenizo or Purple sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) to put with the cactus? It is an evergreen shrub with silvery gray-green leaves and beautiful pink-lavender flowers that appear after rains in the summer and fall. It also, like the agave and cactus, requires very little water.

If you want to keep someone from climbing on a fence, you probably want something with a few spines associated with it. Pyracantha does have spines, but many people aren't aware of them since they are somewhat hidden. You could use Agarita, an evergreen shrub with very visible sharp tips on its leaves. It sports beautiful red berries in early summer and also requires little water. However, if you want to avoid any prickly plants altogether, here are several evergreen shrubs/small trees that lack thorns: Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), Wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), and Texas mountain-laurel (Sophora secundiflora). You can find other shrubs/small trees native to the Hill Country in the Hill Country Horticulture section of the National Plants Database.
 

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