Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Monday - February 15, 2010

From: Marble Falls, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Screen plants to replace non-native Chinese raintrees in Marble Falls, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Five four year old Koelreuteria bipinnata (Chinese Rain) trees were mistakenly cut to the ground. They were planted fairly close together, perhaps ten feet apart. The purpose for them was to provide a screen. Can they be left to resprout for the roots, and will they achieve the purpose of the screen in an attractive manner? Or would it be better to grind them out and start over. They were planted in a line in an orchard, and I believe they might also be a huge water hog and that Basham Party Pink or other large crepe myrtle might be a better choice in the long run. So two questions here..Much appreciate your help!

ANSWER:

Koelreuteria bipinnata, Chinese Rain Tree, is native to China, and therefore out of our range of expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  We are dedicated to the use, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Under the same genus and species name, this article on Chinese Flame Tree from Henderson State University refers to it as invasive, and with a tendency to fill whole areas with a thicket-like tangle. In a warm winter climate, it may reseed and become invasive. We're not going to say that we are glad the trees got cut down, because that was a waste of resources, but we would certainly recommend that you take this opportunity to get the roots and any sprouts or seedlings that might have appeared out now, and replace them with trees native to Central Texas. 

In the same vein, although there is Malpighia glabra (wild crapemyrtle) endemic to Texas, the crapemyrtles you are referring to are hybrids of crosses between Lagerstroemia indica (from China) and Lagerstroemia faurei (from Japan). These trees are subject to disease and mildew, as well as  numerous insect pests, especially aphids. Since they are not evergreen, they are not as useful as a screen.

There are several shrubs and small trees native to Central Texas, some of which are evergreen, that will make good screens. They might not be as spectacular as your other choices, but should be a lot less trouble and much better for your purpose. A plant native to an area is conditioned by millennia of experience to deal with the climate of the area, resist disease and get by on the rain and soil that is available. Follow each plant link below to our webpage on that plant to learn more about its growth requirements.

Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood) - deciduous, 3 to 10 ft. tall, blooms white May to October, low water use, sun

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - evergreen, 12 to 25 ft., blooms white April and May, low water use, sun, part shade or shade

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) - evergreen, 2 to 8 ft. tall, blooms white, pink, purple intermittently January to December, low water use, sun or part shade

Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry) - evergreen, 3 to 6 ft. tall, blooms yellow February to April, sun

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) - evergreen, 8 to 12 ft., blooms white, yellow July and August, low water use, sun or part shade

Senna lindheimeriana (velvet leaf senna) - deciduous, 3 to 6 ft., blooms yellow August to October, sun or part shade

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) - evergreen, 10 to 15 ft., blooms blue, purple February and March, low water use, sun or part shade

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Eysenhardtia texana

Ilex vomitoria

Leucophyllum frutescens

Mahonia swaseyi

Rhus virens

Senna lindheimeriana

Sophora secundiflora

 

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Privacy screen for Rockwall, TX
April 23, 2009 - Dallas area privacy screen recommendations. I have about 125ft of wrought iron fence between my yard and the neighbor's and a drainage pipe that runs along the fence. The neighbor's property sits u...
view the full question and answer

Is purple bindweed good for a screen growing on a fence?
September 12, 2012 - We cleared a bunch of dead trees and tree limbs (mostly cedars and some oaks) on our semi-rural property in Driftwood and now we're left with an undesirable view onto the neighboring property. We're...
view the full question and answer

Need a privacy screen beside a pool in Las Vegas, NV.
June 15, 2012 - Hi, I need to plant a privacy screen fence next to the pool. There is only 4-5 feet between the wall and the pool. That leaves only about 2 feet for soil. What are my best options for non invasive r...
view the full question and answer

Native evergreen trees or shrubs for privacy screen in South Carolina
April 02, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, we recently lost a grove of eleven 30+ year old white pine trees in a storm this month. They provided a natural 42'x30' screen to the front of our property and home. What type o...
view the full question and answer

Arborvitae as privacy screen in Maine
November 17, 2006 - I want to plant privacy bushes (arborvitae shrubs) around my back yard. My husband built a wall to retain the soil behind it. My neighbors' yards abut mine. They have a fence, but not high enough to...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.