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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - July 01, 2010

From: San Angelo, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Shrubs
Title: Native small tree or shrub for container in San Angelo, Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We live in San Angelo TX and are looking for some type of a bush/tree that will grow in a pot in a shaded area..we would like something that would grow to be about 5-6 feel tall and be rather narrow..no more than 3-foot wide. This would be for our front entry area. What might you recommend?


First of all, I suggest that you read our How to Article, Container Gardening with Native Plants, with information about establishing and maintaining your container shrub.  One thing you should keep in mind is that plants in containers are more susceptible to freezing temperatures than those that are planted in the ground.  Their roots don't have the insulation of the soil to protect them.  You will need to remember to protect them during extreme cold.

Sorry, but we aren't going to be able recommend shrubs/small trees that exactly meet your criteria.  Some of the ones below reach a maximum height that exceeds your requirements, but they generally grow slowly and can be pruned.  Their shape may not naturally be what you are looking for (slender); but, for any of them, you can do some judicious pruning to keep them narrow enough for your purposes.  Some of them don't do well in heavy shade but will work in partial shade.  Although you don't say so, I suspect that you are looking for an evergreen tree/shrub to stand by your door, so here are evergreen possibilities for shrubs/small trees native to your area of Texas:

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) will grow in sun, part shade and shade; here is more information.

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) will grow in sun and part shade; here is more information.

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) will grow in sun and part shade; here is more information.

Juniperus ashei (Ashe's juniper) grows in sun and part shade; here is more information.

Juniperus pinchotii (Pinchot's juniper) grows in sun and part shade; here is more information.

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) will grow in sun, part shade and shade; here is more information.

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) grows in sun and part shade; here is more information.

Ilex vomitoria

Leucophyllum frutescens

Rhus virens

Juniperus ashei

Juniperus pinchotii

Juniperus virginiana

Sophora secundiflora

More Shrubs Questions

Fast-growing shrub or tree to block dust from dirt road
March 15, 2009 - I live on a dirt road in Northeast Kansas. Could you recommend a fast growing, low maintenance shrub/bush or small tree that will form a barrier to block the dust from the dirt road? It will be plante...
view the full question and answer

Windbreak [Dustbreak] for Shelton, WA
May 31, 2013 - I live on a well traveled, dusty, gravel road in the Pacific North West and would like to plant a barrier to help control the dust.
view the full question and answer

Native tree or shrub with fruit to espalier on fence
July 23, 2010 - I live in the Austin, TX area and I would like to choose a native tree or shrub to espalier on a fence in my garden. Ideally, I would like to use a tree that bears fruit. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Japanese privet from Glendale AZ
December 26, 2012 - We have Japanese privet shrub and they seem to be suffering from a disease, need help.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub with fall color in Round Rock, TX
September 21, 2009 - I am looking for a shrub that has fall color much like the burning bush euonymus, but needs to be evergreen the rest of the year since it will be used as a foundation plant. Are there any plants that...
view the full question and answer

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