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

Evergreen Privacy Hedge for Long Island
June 29, 2012 - I live on Long Island and want a privacy evergreen hedge partial sun.
view the full question and answer

Lopidea on Texas Mountain Laurel
March 10, 2016 - How do I get rid of lopidea on mountain laurel?
view the full question and answer

Planting time for non-natives in Irving TX
February 07, 2012 - Have dwarf nandinas and two lorapetalums that I want to transplant. Can I do it now February 6th 2012?
view the full question and answer

Native deer-resistant plants for Virginia
September 26, 2012 - I live in Roanoke/Salem Virginia and want to plant a few plants native to the area along the front yard rock wall. I would prefer they be the same, deer resistant, around 5-6 feet tall max and flower...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Cleyera and Red-tip photinia
June 01, 2008 - I planted a row of Cleyera in a bed that receives sunlight for about 3 hours during the middle of the day. My problem is that a number of the plants are dying. It begins with the leaves on one small...
view the full question and answer

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