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?


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
6 ratings

Wednesday - April 07, 2010

From: Holly Ridge , NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Shrub for part shade for hedge in Holly Ridge NC
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We live in Coastal NC. We would like a type of shrub for the front of our home which is partial shade, similar style to a boxwood or trainable hedge. What NC native would compare?


There will surely be some native shrubs for North Carolina that will serve the function you describe, but they won't "compare" with boxwood. One of the reasons so many plants non-native to North America are on the market is because publications and retailers convince the gardening public that they must have a certain appearance or shape or bloom in their gardens. When we looked at the shrubs native to North Carolina in our Native Plant Database, we discovered that many do not grow natively on the North Carolina coastline, but more of them seem to be native to the north and east in your state. The ones we did find are more open and loose-growing and would be difficult to prune into a shape. We personally prefer that sort of thing in native plants, but it is not like boxwood.  We searched in our Native Plant Database for shrubs that were low-growing, and found 6 that both liked your area of Onslow County and did not get over about 3 feet. One other, Morella cerifera (wax myrtle), is known to have dwarf cultivars that would keep it in the same height range.  These were chosen in the database under COMBINATION SEARCH by selecting North Carolina, then "shrub" under General Appearance and "part shade" under Light Requirements. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that particular plant to learn more about it.

Shrubs for Holly Ridge NC:

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Erythrina herbacea (redcardinal)

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)

Fothergilla gardenii (dwarf witchalder)

Ilex myrtifolia (myrtle dahoon) - more information and pictures

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Morella cerifera

Callicarpa americana

Erythrina herbacea

Morella cerifera

Ceanothus americanus

Fothergilla gardenii

Ilex myrtifolia

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Flowers for sunny and shady gardens in Cedar Hill TX
March 30, 2010 - Last year I spent way too much on flowers for my sunny and shady flower beds. They all died from the heat, even after constant watering. What flowers could I plant in sunny and shady flower beds that ...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen flowering shrub for San Antonio, TX
May 20, 2013 - Need a suggestion for an evergreen flowering bush, 3 ft tall for shady area by front door. Have gardenia bushes there now - did well until we had a hard freeze and have struggled ever since. Ideas ple...
view the full question and answer

Hummingbird Attracting Plants for Shade in Smithville, TX
March 28, 2012 - I want hummingbird plants for shade.
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for part shade/shade in Oklahoma.
September 14, 2009 - I am looking for perennial ground covers for shade to part shade under red oaks in central Oklahoma. Soil condition is usually dry. Can you recommend some natives in addition to creeper for xeriscape?...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for shady areas
November 24, 2013 - I would like to know which grasses would grow in mostly shady part of the house.
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center