En Español

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?


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
1 rating

Wednesday - March 10, 2010

From: Bergheim, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Plant barrier along fence in South Central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: I want to put in an attractive, diverse but tough plant barrier to help stop my dogs from running the fence with neighboring dogs. The 5-foot, open-wire fence is far from the house, so the plants need to survive without additional water once established. I'm seeking tough natives for south-central Texas that grow in dry, limestone soil with 4-12 hours of sun per day that the deer will not overbrowse once they are established. (I've learned to fence all new plants!) Spines are fine, flowers are a plus, fragrance is wonderful, usefulness to wildlife is desired. I'd like a mix of vines, shrubs and trees. I have already established Agave americana, sotol and Texas mountain laurel. Other suggestions would be much appreciated. Gracias!


You've made a great start!   Here are some suggestion for native small trees, shrubs and vines that grow in Kendall County or adjacent counties:


Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) with lots of spiny evergreen leaves, fragrant flowers and berries for wildlife (and people).

Ehretia anacua (knockaway) with fragrant flowers and fruit for wildlife.

Schaefferia cuneifolia (desert yaupon) is evergreen, somewhat spiny, and with berries for wildlife.  Here is more information.

Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon) has fruit that wildlife like.  It is also edible for humans, but rather bland-tasting.

Acacia angustissima (prairie acacia) is low-growing, the flowers attract butterflies and wildlife eats the seeds.

Acacia farnesiana (sweet acacia) is spiny and grows to 20 feet with fragrant flowers.

Leucaena retusa (goldenball leadtree) grows to 25 feet with spectacular sweet-smelling golden flowers.

Parkinsonia aculeata (Jerusalem thorn) grows to 30 feet with thorns and yellow flowers.

Yucca treculeana (Spanish dagger) grows up to 10 feet with sharp spines on tips of leaves and spectacular flowers in spring.

Condalia hookeri (Brazilian bluewood) is a spiny shrub or small tree with edible fruit.

Zanthoxylum hirsutum (Texas Hercules' club) is a thorny shrub with aromatic leaves when crushed.

Leucophyllum frutescens (cenizo) is evergreen and flowers throughout the year.

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) with showy purple fruits for birds and wildlife.


Ampelopsis cordata (heartleaf peppervine) with fruit for birds and other wildlife.

Clematis drummondii (Drummond's clematis) with attractive feathery plumes on ripe seeds.

Clematis texensis (scarlet leather flower) with red showy flowers.

Ibervillea lindheimeri (Lindheimer's globeberry) with large red fruits for the birds.

Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle) is evergreen with red flowers that attract hummingbirds but have little scent.

Passiflora affinis (bracted passionflower) attracts butterflies.

Vitis mustangensis (mustang grape) with fruits for birds and other wildlife.

You can find still more suggestions on our Texas-Central Recommended page.

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

Mahonia trifoliolata

Diospyros texana

Acacia farnesiana

Leucaena retusa

Yucca treculeana

Leucophyllum frutescens

Ibervillea lindheimeri

Lonicera sempervirens








More Trees Questions

Mediterranean Pines indigenous to Verde Valley AZ
January 01, 2012 - Are the tall, thin Mediterranean/Pencil Pines growing in the Verde Valley in Arizona indigenous to the area? They are so plentiful, but are not identified as an indigenous evergreen. If not, how did...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for running bamboo in California
May 20, 2013 - We currently have running bamboo planted next to the side our house facing West, which has provided wonderful shade in front of two large windows. However, because it is running bamboo we are afraid i...
view the full question and answer

Looking for a tree to plant as a memorial in Leesburg, GA.
September 09, 2010 - I'm looking for tree to plant as memorial to my brother who died. It must be native, for South Georgia, zone 8, open fields. It should provide mast for wildlife. Heat zone 8, good drought-tolerance. ...
view the full question and answer

Distance from existing oak trees to place paving
December 16, 2008 - We are designing an expansion for an existing veterinary office and the desired side for expansion will require addition to the parking and drive aisle to the back side of the property. My question i...
view the full question and answer

Why is my Ash drooping?
June 22, 2009 - Last spring, I bought a house in Austin, TX with a large Ash tree in the front yard. It looked fine last year, but has been looking funny since it leafed out this spring. It's as if the leaves are we...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center