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

Thursday - December 31, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf
Title: Evergreen plants for shaded lawn in Austin, Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I want to replace three scrawny ligustrums on the shady north front of my house with native plants. I'd like evergreen plants that don't need much maintenance. I'm not looking for a hedge, but some plants of different sizes and textures, ideally with flowers or other interest at different times of the year. Plants that are fast growing up to a maximum of 6-9 feet high would be great because I'll probably need to buy small young plants. There's very little sun in this area - it's shaded by the house and there's a large tree (Chinese Tallow maybe?) in the middle of the smallish front yard. I know I'm asking for the world! Any recommendations you have would really help. Thanks.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants hopes your area can be classified as "part shade" because we're not going to be very successful in finding many evergreen plants of larger size that do well in the shade.  In our database, shade = less than 2 hours of sunlight per day, part shade = 2 to 6 hours of shade per day, and sun = more than 6 hours of sun per day. Many of the plants listed below will grow in shade, but growth tends to be slower or the plants tend to be leggy when in complete shade. 

First of all, here are some shrubs/small trees that could work.  All have flowers and/or berries that are attractive.  Please realize that with judicious pruning you can keep these shrubs to reasonable size even though they potentially will grow taller than you want.

Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto) sun, part shade, shade to 5 feet.  Here is more information.

Morella cerifera [syn. Myrica cerifera](wax myrtle) sun, part shade to 20 feet and moderate growth rate.  There are also dwarf varieties that grow to only 5 or 6 feet.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) part shade and moderate to fast growing up to 25 feet

Malpighia glabra (wild crapemyrtle) part shade to 6 feet.

Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri (Lindheimer's silktassel) part shade and fast growth to 11 feet.  Here is more information.

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) part shade and fast growing to 15 to 20 feet

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) sun, part shade and moderate to fast growth to 8 feet.  Here is more information.

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) sun, part shade and slow to moderate growth to 35 feet and has beautiful flowers in the spring.  Here is more information.

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) sun, part shade up to 8 feet.  Here is more information.

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) sun, part shade, 5 to 8 feet, and here is more information.

Here are some smaller evergreen plants.

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista) part shade moderate growth to 3 feet.  Here is more information

Salvia penstemonoides (big red sage) sun, part shade to 6 feet.

Yucca rupicola (Texas yucca) sun, part shade with foliage up to 2 feet and with the blossom to 5 feet.

Here are photos of the above plants from our Image Gallery:


Sabal minor

Morella cerifera

Ilex vomitoria

Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri

Malpighia glabra

Prunus caroliniana

Rhus virens

Nolina texana

Mahonia trifoliolata

Leucophyllum frutescens

Sophora secundiflora

Salvia penstemonoides

Yucca rupicola

 

 

 



 

More Turf Questions

Grassburs in native lawn in Utopia TX
June 22, 2010 - I recently planted native Texas grass (Buffalograss, blue grama & curly mesquite) at my new house in the hill country. I had to bring in all the top soil. The grass is doing great, but in one area o...
view the full question and answer

Mowing the multi-species buffalo grass lawn
June 23, 2011 - I am planning on putting in a buffalo grass lawn in an area that is little used. I read that a mix of buffalo, blue grama, and curly mesquite is good for better cover but I am concerned about the blu...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for shady yard in Austin
September 04, 2011 - I was looking at your research on native grasses to be used in a yard. I want to plant your native mix of seeds, but worry that there is too much shade in my yard. I live in central Austin and wante...
view the full question and answer

Native grass for shaded lawn in Austin
May 14, 2010 - Hello, I've read all your info on the native lawns and came by the center on Sunday. We live in Circle C and want to plant a lawn in our backyard. We don't want something that needs a lot of wate...
view the full question and answer

Replacing lawn in Taylor, Texas
May 28, 2009 - I live in Taylor, Texas, just northeast of Austin, in the Blackland Prairie region. However, I do not live on a farm, but in town on a city lot of 1/3 acre. My soil is clayey, and currently I have a L...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center