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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Tuesday - February 16, 2010

From: Smithville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native bamboo for a privacy fence in Smithville, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am considering planting bamboo along my privacy fence inside my back yard. I like the informality of it and durability. Is it safe for children and pets?

ANSWER:

Please don't, and our concern has nothing to do with children and pets, but rather the integrity of your garden, and those of your neighbors. Bamboo is a bad idea because it can be extremely invasive, and simply take over. See this invasives.org website on Phyllostachys aurea, Golden bamboo for more reasons why you don't want that. In addition, bamboo is native to Southeast China and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Another article with arguments against the use of this plant is from the University of Florida website on Aquatic and Invasive Plants, Phyllostachys aurea. Over and over, we hear complaints from gardeners who either inherited a stand of bamboo from a previous owner or have had it leap into their yard from neighbors. The only way to prevent it from becoming invasive is to never plant it. 

We would be happy to recommend other screen plants, native to Central Texas, if you would like to send us the light requirements, size desired and space. Or you can go to our Recommended Species section, select Central Texas from the map, and then "Shrub" from GENERAL APPEARANCE and the sun exposure that is available to the space. Following each link on the list, you can decide which plants you like, what would be required for each one in terms of water and what height they will attain.  

 

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