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

Replacement for grass under non-native weeping willow from Yorba Linda CA
April 24, 2012 - What would be a good replacement for the grass currently growing under a weeping willow? Something requiring low maintenance, the problem is with mowing over and around the roots.
view the full question and answer

Screen and shade for pool in Michigan
July 18, 2010 - We recently moved to a new home that has a pool. There is no shade nor privacy. What types of trees, plants would you recommend for our small backyard?
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade in New Jersey
September 21, 2008 - hi ,i live in rahway nj and i was wondering what are good plant and shrubs to plant for this area. we are doing all new landscaping and we have alot of shade areas. we like the ornamental grasses but ...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen Vine for San Antonio Trellis
November 23, 2011 - I have a new trellis at the end of my patio on which I want to grow an evergreen vine. The area is fairly shady. I had settled on Carolina Jasmine, but read that it is very toxic which is worrisome ...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for Love Grass in Michigan
July 27, 2015 - need a replacement for Love Grass at Shops of Willow Bend in Plano. The entire perimeter of this mall has Bermuda and Love Grass. The Elms and Oaks have grown so the Love Grass is mostly gone. Ther...
view the full question and answer

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