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?

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
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

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

Bulletproof plants from Burleson TX
April 18, 2013 - I recently wrote you a question concerning planting a privacy plant consisting of wax leaf ligustrum on my country property. Your answer was immediate (thank you-I am impressed). I like the wax leaf ...
view the full question and answer

Care for Vauquelinia angustifolia (Chisos Rosewood)
June 08, 2008 - Hello, I have another question for you. A friend has given me a plant called "Chisos Rosewood" which they bought on a whim but decided they couldn't use. It's said to be evergreen. It's about...
view the full question and answer

Search for non-native Rosa Rugosa for Granbury TX
November 12, 2012 - I would like to find an old fashioned Rosa Rugosa (non-hybrid) to grow in central Texas. I know I've seen them occasionally when traveling in the central TX area. I want them for their rose hips. ...
view the full question and answer

Fuzzy Citrus Fruit on Satsuma and Lemon Trees
September 13, 2014 - A man asked you about fuzzy little small fruit-like balls that looked like tiny lemons. I have huge numbers of these on both my mature Satsuma and lemon tree this year. I get 100's of really great f...
view the full question and answer

Lack of Blooms and Low Hanging Limbs on Mountain Laurels
August 06, 2014 - My mountain laurel didn't bloom this year but has a few hard pods on it. It is 9 ft tall but very top heavy with most growth low. I need to prune it a lot at the bottom because it has branches hangi...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center