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

Wednesday - May 26, 2010

From: Katy, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Evergreen large shrub/small tree for screen in Houston
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live on the west side of Houston Tx. I need an evergreen large shrub or shorter tree between myself and a busy neighborhood road. There is a power line above this so we would like something that either grows 20 - to 30 ft or when chopped at the top by the power company, it will not compromise the growth or appearance of the plant. Something that blooms would be better but not necessary. p.s. have two lovely dogs so do not want to compromise their safety either w/poisonous fruit, etc. thanks so much!

ANSWER:

Here are five native possibilities that could work for you:

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) grows 12 to 25 feet

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) grows 6 to 12 feet

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) generally 30 to 40 feet, but can be pruned into a hedge

Ehretia anacua (knockaway) maximum height 20 to 45 feet with fragrant flowers

Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay) semi-evergreen, generally 12 to 20 feet, with showy flowers

There are several databases to consult for plant toxicity.  The ASPCA has a list specific to dogs, Toxic and Non-toxic Plant List—Dogs. There are several others that we use, as well:

Toxic Plants of Texas 

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

None of the trees I recommended are on the ASPCA list but I did find two species of Ilex—Ilex opaca (American holly) and the non-native Ilex aquifolium (European or English holly)—and one Magnolia—Magnolia stellata (star magnolia), a native of Japan—listed by the ASPCA.  Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) is listed on the Poisonous Plants of North Carolina database, referring to the berries, as "causes only mild toxicity if eaten".  A male specimen of this tree does not produce berries.  The fleshy cones (we usually call them "berries") of Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) are also listed as mildly toxic if eaten.  Again, male trees won't have berries.  None of the other three trees appears on any of the toxic plant databases and neither the eastern redcedar nor the yaupon appears on any of the toxic plant databases other than the one from the University of North Carolina.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Ilex vomitoria

Morella cerifera

Juniperus virginiana

Ehretia anacua

Magnolia virginiana

 

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

What grows in Tampa FL
July 01, 2013 - Please let me know what grows in the backyard in Tampa, FL to provide screening and privacy?
view the full question and answer

White flowers to plant in front of evergreen tree screen in Altoona PA
June 15, 2010 - I have planted about 30 evergreen trees (as a screen). I would like to plant a row of low maintenance whitish flowering bushes or low maintenance large flowering plants in front of this row. Any sug...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screen Tree for Patio in NC
April 15, 2013 - What is a good tree to plant in front of a brick wall/fence to provide privacy and not compromise the structural integrity of the wall? The brick fence is my neighbors but I need privacy as they can s...
view the full question and answer

Replacing Drought-Stricken Cedars
January 16, 2012 - Hello, I live in Williamson County on a couple acres. We have several dead cedars as a result of drought; we're reluctant to cut them down because many of them provide a friendly barrier between us...
view the full question and answer

Native vine for privacy on metal mesh fence from Houston
March 20, 2014 - Is there a native vine that does not get top heavy in order to provide privacy from the bottom to the top on an expanded metal mesh fence? It's okay if it dies back, but prefer for it to be evergree...
view the full question and answer

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