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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Thompson's yucca
Yucca thompsoniana

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

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