En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - August 28, 2010

From: Leander, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Specimen evergreen for sun in Central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I'm soliciting suggestions for a specimen plant for a new garden we're building. It will be planted in a 3' square raised (18") Limestone bed. It will be full sun, Western exposure, and relatively dry. I'd like an evergreen with strong geometric form, height 3', topping out 10' or less. Hill Country native preferred, but, considering the intense location, would consider desert SW plant. Wife says "No cactus". Here's what we've thought of, so far. Nothing screams "I'm it", but it may give some idea of what we're looking for: Weeping Yaupon (probably too big) A dwarfed TX Persimmon (think giant bonsai) An ancient Rosemary, trimmed to tree form Red or yellow Hesperaloe Thanks for any help.


Mr. Smarty Plants thinks that the Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca) or its yellow form would be nice.  However, Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon), dwarf or otherwise, is only semi-evergreen.

Here are some other possibilities that meet your general size requirements, are evergreen and love the sun:

Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto) grows 5 to 10 feet tall.

Dasylirion texanum (Texas sotol) has a flower stalk that can reach 15 feet, but the foliage itself is only around 2.5 to 3 feet and Dasylirion wheeleri (common sotol) has a flower stalk up to 10 feet, but the foliage is less than 3 feet.

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush or cenizo) typically grows to only 4 to 6 feet, but can grow a bit taller.

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) grows 8 to 12 feet.

Yucca thompsoniana (Thompson's yucca) grows 6 to 12 feet.

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) grows 6 to 12 feet but occasionally can reach 20 feet.  There are dwarf versions available, however.


From the Image Gallery

Red yucca
Hesperaloe parviflora

Texas persimmon
Diospyros texana

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Texas sotol
Dasylirion texanum

Common sotol
Dasylirion wheeleri

Leucophyllum frutescens

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Thompson's yucca
Yucca thompsoniana

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Why is my Agave suffering in Mesa, Arizona?
August 06, 2009 - I live in Mesa AZ, and have an agave that we planted 7 years ago. It grew like crazy with hardly any care whatsoever, until I cut off some of the bottom leaves and 'pups' about a month ago. Recently...
view the full question and answer

Pollinating moth of Arkansas Yucca from Arlington TX
May 15, 2012 - What is the pollinating moth of the Arkansas yucca. I have Desert willows which is the larval host for white-winged moth, but the yuccas are still not seeding. What other larval hosts plants can I p...
view the full question and answer

Plants for area around salt water pool
June 27, 2013 - What are some plants that will grow around my salt water pool where there is some salt water runoff occasionally.
view the full question and answer

Are agaves really native from Pacific Palisades CA
April 30, 2013 - I just replied re agave issues, and mistakenly asked the source of your information. I see that you clearly noted it, apologies. I would note, however, that the Riverside area is very much a hot,...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage on Barrel Cactus in Llano TX
March 04, 2011 - I believe my barrel cactus has freeze damage. The flesh turned yellow and is now turning dark. The base is still green. If I cut off the damaged top portion, leaving the green base, should it survive?...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center