Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

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
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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - May 13, 2010

From: Guerneville, CA
Region: California
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Evergreen drought-tolerant screening plant for shade
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am renting my place and looking for a screening, green all year, native plant or shrub. I plan to grow it in large planters along my street and to create privacy in my back yard. It has to be a non-allergy, fast growing, drought tolerant species! Shaded by 2 huge redwood trees 10 feet from either side, The space is 15 feet tall and 10 ft long, and 4 feet deep, nestled between overgrown shrubberies flanking the space. Its an old driveway entry which is grassed over and gated looks just like the fence. We want to be able to move the plant if we ever have to open the gate again, but at the moment we don't care to use it. We live in Sonoma County, CA in Guerneville, 10 minutes to the beach. At the top of the hill with brighter sun than most, I guess it's partial shade with dappled sunlight and full sun.

ANSWER:

That's a very big order—evergreen, drought- and shade-tolerant plant that is fast-growing and non-allergenic to be grown in large planters!  But, let's start by looking at our California-Northern Recommended plant list.  Here are a few possibilities that are native to Sonoma County:

Ceanothus velutinus (snowbrush ceanothus) grows 3 to 5 feet high in dry soils and has fast growth.  According to PollenLibrary.com this is mildly allergenic.

Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon) grows 6-8 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide and drought tolerant, fast growth rate.  Here is more information.  This plant is on the San Diego Regional Asthma Coalition Allergy Plant and Tree List.

Polystichum munitum (western swordfern) grows 3-5 feet high and is drought tolerant.  Here is more information.  May be very mildly allergenic.

Rhamnus crocea (redberry buckthorn) grows 2-3 feet high and grows in dry soils, moderate growth rate.  Here is more information.  No information indicating that this plant causes allergies.

Rhododendron macrophyllum (Pacific rhododendron) 5 to 25 feet and grows in dry soils, but may require some moisture.   Here is more information.  According to PollenLibrary.com the pollen from this plant does not cause allergies.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Ceanothus velutinus

Heteromeles arbutifolia

Polystichum munitum

Rhamnus crocea

Rhododendron macrophyllum

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Darkened leaves on blueberry bush
July 02, 2008 - I have a blueberry bush planted in a very large pot. It has been doing very well, producing berries and new growth. All of a sudden the leaves have begun to turn dark. I have it potted in good soil...
view the full question and answer

Starting shade-tolerant ground covers in New York
September 10, 2013 - Hi, I have seen some of the posts for shade-tolerant ground cover on the east end of Long Island and my question is process related. Now that I've identified the grasses/plants I need to keep my fro...
view the full question and answer

Arborvitae thinning in Bucks County, PA
April 09, 2010 - My arborvitae trees are about 11 ft. tall. I had them put in about 3 years ago. They were 8 to 10 ft. when planted. After the first year, I have noticed they are thinning to the point where you can se...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control for shady slope in Kentucky backyard
August 28, 2013 - I live in northern Kentucky (near Cincinnati). I have an area in my backyard that has slope. It is next to an ash tree and is very shady. Water erosion has washed away the top soil and pretty much no...
view the full question and answer

mixed species privacy hedge in Central Texas
March 24, 2016 - I need to plant a privacy hedge along a fence line. I am in east Austin, blackland prairie soil. The soil is rich, usually at least moist but not soggy, and I find lots of worms when I dig. The fen...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.