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Mr. Smarty Plants - Hedge for a shady spot

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Friday - November 12, 2010

From: San Marcos, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Hedge for a shady spot
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

In the Statesman you recently provided good suggestions about a privacy screen. I need a hedge that will grow under a huge old oak tree. Will wax myrtle or red cedar work for us? I have yaupon and mountain laurel in the yard already but they grow too slowly. What do you think about eleagnus? They seem to grow quickly and the deer haven't devoured them yet!

ANSWER:

I think Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) might be your best bet. It grows relatively fast and provides dense foliage if pruned occasionally. Another possibility is Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac), which has shiny evergreen leaves and clusters of red fruit throughout the winter. Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar) might be hard to keep in a compact form in the relatively low light under your oak tree. Don't give up on Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) and Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel). Although slow growers at first, when they reach about 4 feet in height both species seem to take off. We have little experience with the non-native Eleagnus, and we prefer to recommend natives whenever appropriate. There are three species of Eleagnus on the TexasInvasives.org site, and you might wish to check out their database: http://www.texasinvasives.org/invasives_database.

Another interesting possibility if your oak canopy lets through a fair amount of light is Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo). The dense gray-green foliage of Cenizo might lighten up the understory and produce pink flowers about two weeks after a good rain.

Speaking of rain, I should remind you that oak trees soak up water like a sponge. Make certain that your choice of hedge is well watered.

Attached below are photos of the recommended plants:

 

From the Image Gallery


Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

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