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
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 Shrubs Questions

Evergreen Hedge for Austin
November 28, 2010 - Hello, We live in Austin and have a yard that is almost fully shaded. We have a few burford holly bushes there, but would like to add some evergreen interest. We would love a tall hedge (around 8 ft...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Philadelphus Innocence mock orange from Paris TX
June 20, 2012 - What is the best place in the garden to grow Philadelphus Innocence mock orange in Paris, Tx? Also, how long after transplanting do flowers occur? Any tips appreciated
view the full question and answer

Esperanza freezing back in Highlands, TX
April 16, 2011 - I have an 3 yr. old Esperanza that froze the last two yrs. but grew back each spring. This spring after getting about 2 ft. the leaves at the bottom began turning brown at the edges and now seems to...
view the full question and answer

Small shrubs and perennials, low maintenance, for San Antonio
February 06, 2010 - I am helping my 87 year old father landscape his yard in San Antonio. His small yard is about a block from the SA River, near the zoo, and has clay and loam from the river. He wants very low to low wa...
view the full question and answer

Native Azaleas for Southeast USA
April 03, 2012 - Where can I purchase wild azaleas?
view the full question and answer

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