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

Thursday - April 29, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Privacy shrub in part shade to shade in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Barbara Medford's July 1, 2008 reply regarding Little Emperor Japanese Blueberry Tree is exactly my experience with cherry laurel in partial sun/shaded area in Austin, Texas. For 6 - 8' height sight blocking hedge, what variety would you suggest for Austin?


For those interested, here is the  Previous answer. Shrubs for the Austin area that need part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) and shade (less than 2 hours a day of sun) are going to find slim pickings. We live in an area with a lot of sun, and the plants native to this area are used to that. We assume you also want evergreen, for privacy year round. For Central Texas, there are 5 shrubs or small trees that fit those requirements. With the exception of Ilex vomitoria (yaupon), however, all require sun or part shade. We would think anything less than 4 hours of good sun would cause the  shrubs to languish. Even though it will mean not very thick coverage for a few years, about 5 ft. from trunk to trunk of any of these when they are planted would be the minimum.  Shrubs will often grow to nearly their height in circumference; that is, a 6 ft. tall shrub will spread out about 3 feet on each side, total of 6 feet. If their trunks are 5 ft. apart, their outer branches will mingle with each other with minimal pruning. Follow each link to the page on that plant to determine how tall it gets, what width it should be and what light exposure it requires.

Evergreen Shrubs for Part Shade in Central Texas:

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - sun,part shade or shade

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) - sun or part shade, but will bloom better with higher percentage of sun

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) - 3 to 6 ft. tall, sun or part shade

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) - sun or part shade

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) - 10 to 15 ft. tall, sun or part shade.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Ilex vomitoria

Leucophyllum frutescens

Mahonia trifoliolata

Rhus virens

Sophora secundiflora





More Shade Tolerant Questions

Drought and Shade tolerant plants for Wichita Falls, TX
July 24, 2015 - I can find lots of information about planting drought tolerant, sun loving native plants, a number of which I've planted over the years. But I can find very little information about drought tolerant ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for shady area in north Texas
July 29, 2013 - I'm looking for a ground cover for a mostly shady area where St. Augustine won't grow. I don't want the ground cover to overtake my established St. Augustine in the rest of the yard. The area is un...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant Wildflowers for Oklahoma City
April 16, 2012 - I live in Oklahoma City. I'm not in town very often, and am seeking low maintenance plants. I have MANY trees in my backyard, which makes it quite shady. I have raised beds amongst my rock garden ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for no sun in Austin
May 12, 2010 - I need recommendations for shrubs that can withstand no sun, something that possibly blooms but does not attract bees, wasps, or any stinging insects (hummingbirds or butterflies ok).
view the full question and answer

Shrubs, groundcovers, and grasses for shade in North Central Texas
March 19, 2010 - Updated (2009-10) information about shrubs / ground cover /grasses recommended for North Central Texas - Complete back yard re-landscaping under a lot of trees, shady areas, regular bermuda, St Augus...
view the full question and answer

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