Explore Plants

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
    
 

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
7 ratings

Sunday - February 28, 2010

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Native plant to replace invasive non-native nandina in Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm just now finding out that Nandinas are an invasive species from our local chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas. I have three of them in my front yard and want to replace them. Can you suggest anything native that has the similar coloring such as the reddish leaves, even berries if possible, but mostly something in similar leaf coloration to Nandinas? I live in Houston. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Sorry, that's why so many non-native (and invasive) plants are sold, because they have qualities or appearances that we do not find in plants native to an area. Then if, like nandina, they are invasive exact replacements are not to be found. You do know that even after you dig out your existing nandinas, you will still be fighting them for a long time. Learn about how it spreads and survives from this University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants website on Nandina domestica.

So, may we reset your thinking? We will look in our Recommended Species for East Texas for shrubs that could provide some Fall color, are of medium height and will not be invasive. 

Native shrubs for Houston:

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) - 3 to 5 ft. tall, deciduous, attractive bark, pinky purple berries in fall and Winter, or until the birds get them. Blooms white, pink May to July, low water use, part shade.

Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea) - 3 to 12 ft., greenish flowers turn white, then purple and persist on bush until Winter. Foliage shaped shaped something like a red oak, becomes colorful in Fall. Medium water use, shade

Itea virginica (Virginia sweetspire) - 3 to 6 ft., semi-evergreen, blooms white April to June, leaves turn red to purple in Fall and persist well into Winter. High water use, part shade

Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush) - 6 to 12 ft., deciduous, glossy red fruit, leaves turn golden yellow in Fall, medium water use, sun, part shade or shade

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow) - 2 to 3 ft., deciduous, blooms white, red May to November, medium water use, part shade or shade

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - 6 to 12 ft., evergreen, fragrant foliage, high water use, sun or part shade. Berries eaten by many species of birds, but plant is dioecious.

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry) - 4 to 6 ft., deciduous, blooms white, green April to July, coral pink to purple berries remain on plant through winter, low to medium water use, part shade or shade

Viburnum acerifolium (mapleleaf viburnum) -4 to 6 ft., bright to dark green deciduous foliage, very colorful in Fall. White flowers May to August followed by red to blue-black berries.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

 
 

More Non-Natives Questions

Hours of darkness for non-native poinsettia to bloom
October 28, 2005 - I have a poinsettia from last Christmas still alive. I was told to get it so many hours of darkness. Do you know how many hours? When would be the best time to start displaying the plant again?
view the full question and answer

Seeds for invasive, non-native Erodium cicutarium
February 05, 2008 - I rec'd the following e-mail from a friend in he Chicago area. I looked for about an hour and couldn't find a place to get weed seeds. She thinks we are in the desert here and apparently are so rura...
view the full question and answer

Damage to ruellia in Monroe LA
October 26, 2009 - I have hundreds of Ruellia Brittoniana. Dwarf Katie White, Katie Blue and Katie Pink. I am finding holes in some of the leaves, Some just have notches chewed out of them. Some of the leaves have...
view the full question and answer

What are the differences between Arbutus xalapensis, A. unedo and A. marina
August 29, 2013 - One nursery lists madrone trees as arbutus uneda compacta and arbutus marina. The other lists it as arbutus xalapensis, which is the only name I can find in the data base. There is a very large pric...
view the full question and answer

Alternatives to non-native, invasive Pampa grass
August 11, 2006 - Could you please tell me if Cortaderia Selloana is "zone 4" hardy? Also how to start Opuntia Humifusa from cuttings? Do I let them stand upright dry and with no soil until they form the callous? Ple...
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.