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?

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
Not Yet Rated

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

More Shade Tolerant Questions

How much shade will Thunder Turf (Habiturf) take?
March 20, 2016 - How much shade will Thunder Turf take?
view the full question and answer

Native turkscap failing to thrive in Shiro TX
March 19, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Two years ago I transplanted several native (not cultivars) Drummond's turkscaps in the proximity of water oaks in the front yard. All get shade and some sun. They seemed to ...
view the full question and answer

Low maintenance, shade tolerant groundcover for Pacific Northwest
August 09, 2012 - What's a good low maintenance, shade tolerant ground cover for the Pacific Northwest? It needs to have good erosion control, too.
view the full question and answer

Should Solanum eleagnifolium, silverleaf nightshade, be removed from yard
October 01, 2009 - I live in Upstate NY. I'm quite sure, after checking many sites/pictures, that I have a couple specimens of Silver Leaf Night Shade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) growing in the "wild" portion of my side...
view the full question and answer

Need plants with red flowers to grow in shaded area in yard in Austin.
May 04, 2010 - I have a shaded area where all the shrubs die. I would like to plant some flowers there instead of shrubs. What red flower plants can sustain a lot of shade.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center