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
1 rating

Wednesday - April 28, 2010

Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Need plants to shade on a west-facing wall in Houston, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


What plants are best to provide shade on a west facing wall in Houston. I am looking for plants that help to cool the house.


There are at least three ways that you might accomplish this; each with its advantages and disadvantages. You might want to consider shade trees, shrubs, or deciduous vines to shade your west facing wall.

Trees are very good shade producers, but it can take a long time before they reach maturity. I am going to refer you to the Texas Tree Planting Guide. If you use the Custom Tree Selector, you can find suggestions for trees that will fit your situation.

Our next option would be shrubs which will also take a while before they can offer much shade, but they have the advantage of producing flowers to brighten the landscape.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush)

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac)

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)

Deciduous vines have the advantage of growing fairly rapidly and having flowers. The disadvantage is that you would need to provide some sort of trellis structure for support.

Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)

Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria)

Bignonia capreolata (crossvine)

I came up with these plant names by going to the Recommended Species page and clicking East Texas on the map. In the Narrow your Search window, select Texas under STATE, shrubs (or vine) under GENERAL APPEARANCE, and perennial under LIFESPAN. Check Sun under LIGHT REQUIREMENT, and moist (or dry) under SOIL MOISTURE. Click the "Narrow Your Search" button, and you will get a list of commercially available plants that match these criteria. Clicking on the name of each plant will pull up its NPIN page with a descriptionof the plant along with its growth requirements and pictures. You can do this search to find other possibilities.

Ilex vomitoria

Lindera benzoin

Rhus virens

Morella cerifera

Lonicera sempervirens

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Wisteria frutescens

Bignonia capreolata



More Shade Tolerant Questions

Plants to grow under elm tree in Amarillo TX
May 01, 2014 - I have a large elm tree and I can't get seem to get anything to grow under it. I was wondering if there are any shade-loving groundcovers that you would recommend (have tried English Ivy, hostas, an...
view the full question and answer

Texas natives that are shade tolerant for Austin, TX
January 21, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am looking for Texas native plants that are shade tolerant....specifically agaves (How about the Century Agave and the Queen Victoria Agave?) and something to add a splash ...
view the full question and answer

Connecticut Plants for a Steep Slope
September 09, 2015 - I am looking for the best plants to retain a steep, dry, fully shaded slope in zone 5, Connecticut. It must be deer resistant. Plant height is not a factor.
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plant for Rodeo, California
November 02, 2008 - I live in Rodeo, California and I need to know what is a good green plant I can get to place in a shady area
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep slope in shade in Iowa
July 02, 2010 - I work for a small non-profit shelter here in Dubuque, Ia. that has a very steep slope behind the building that needs some sort of plant or grass planted to stop erosion. The slope gets little to no s...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center