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
1 rating

Friday - September 17, 2010

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Need Small Native Shrub in Dallas, TX
Answered by: Marilyn Kircus

QUESTION:

We live in Dallas and are looking for a dwarf bush that we can plant in the space between the sidewalk and the street in front of our house. It would receive full sun to partial shade. We would like for it to flower or change color throughout the seasons, but mainly we want color in the fall and winter. Our friends have suggested Dwarf Nandina and Flowering Quince, but the Quince doesn't appear to have leaves and the Nandina could easily spread elsewhere. Can you give any advice or suggestions?

ANSWER:

My first thought was dwarf wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera var. pumila). This is a beautiful little plant with berries for winter interest. It also has a wonderful scent and pretty bark. You will have to give it water until it gets established.  Then it can withstand both drought and flooding.  I have grown the plants in Houston in alkaline clay in part sun successfully.  The full size myrtles are growing as small trees in Dripping Springs, in the Texas Hill Country.   

The Lady Bird Johnson database has information on Wax Myrtles in general.

Dwarf Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria 'Nana') is another possibility.  It is slow growing and stays in a mound.  It is a tough ornamental that stays green all winter – but doesn't usually produce berries. It tolerates hot, dry locations.

And another possibility – although not a shrub – is Lindheimer’s muhley (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri). Its seed ripens in December so you will have beautiful seed heads all winter.  This plant is being used extensively in landscapes in the Texas Hill Country and will do well for you.  The movement of the grass in the wind is mesmerizing and the seed heads form in the fall and last all winter.  In the spring, you can use Duct Tape to tape around the lower stems of the plant, about twelve inches from the base of the plant.   Then take electric hedge trimmers and cut the plant just below the tape.  Recycle or dispose of the grass tops.  In early spring, the grass will again begin growing.  And plants in four inch pots planted in the spring will be full grown by fall.

If you are like me and can't do with just one species, you could combine two or even all three of these to make an even more interesting landscape in the space between your sidewalk and street.  And from the house, it would form a backdrop to a border in your front yard, thus visually extending your yard.

  
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

 

More Shrubs Questions

Shrubs for privacy in wet area in Ohio
July 13, 2011 - I am looking for flowering shrubs for Ohio that reach 8-10 feet and can handle wet feet. I am trying to avoid building a wall for privacy and would like to use flowering shrubs instead.
view the full question and answer

Mountain Laurel not growing in Hallettesville, TX.
September 16, 2012 - Mountain laurel has been planted over 2 years. Well drained,sandy soil, full sun. They have not grown or set blooms despite occasional all purpose fertilizers. What is wrong?
view the full question and answer

Living fence of native plants for Ojai, CA
September 20, 2008 - I would like to build a "green fence" about 10-15 feet tall. I live in Ojai, CA where we have VERY hot summers and it goes below freezing every winter. The soil does not seem to drain well..it is e...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen plants for a windbreak
June 13, 2008 - Our church has need to plant a windbreak. We would like fast growing native plants, preferably evergreen or really early 'leafers' to protect us from our windy season beginning in mid/late February....
view the full question and answer

Non-native Genista racemosa from Houston
June 17, 2012 - Read your info on Genista Racemosa. Doesn't address my problem of it not blooming this year. It's in full sun and growing well, about 30" tall & round. Bloomed last year. We're feeding with ba...
view the full question and answer

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