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
6 ratings

Thursday - March 24, 2011

From: Pearland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Evergreen Shrubs for the Houston area
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in the Houston area and I am looking for an evergreen native shrub (no more than 7 feet tall at maturity) for two locations - one would be in full sun and the other beneath a tall crepe myrtle (would receive morning sun). I would prefer the same plant to work in both locations- since they would frame window. Can you recommend something? Also, low maintanence. I hope this is not too many requirements! :)

ANSWER:

Well, you can have as many requirements as you like!   In the end we’ll give you a few suggestions and you’ll have to make some choices as to how strong your requirements are and how well the suggested plants fit into your whole landscape.

  As it turns out, the desire for “low maintenance” is pretty well handled in that you asked about native shrubs.  Our whole point is that these plants will happily grow in the wild with NO MAINTENANCE, so the little bit of care and watering they get from being in your yard is plenty for them.  Similarly, as you ask for a low shrub, these tend to be understory plants in the wild, so they come programmed to deal well in both full sun and partial.  Of course, the one in full sun will likely be the happier one and will grow a bit more aggressively than the shaded one.

  Mr Smarty Plants would note that the crape myrtle is NOT a native (popular as they are). If you have an arborist elevate the cape myrtle and do some pruning you’ll find that it allows quite a bit of light to come through the branches. That should even the growth differences in the trees slightly, from one window to the other.

  OK, on the recommendations.  That’s a perfect job for the recommended plants application offered on this website.  You can choose the recommended plants for East Texas and you can be pretty sure they will be good choices.  Note that Pearland is real close to the "border" to South Texas, so if your yard is more like the area to the West, then somewhat different recommendations emerge! 

  As well as the East Texas Recommended list you could also consult the Native Plant Society of Texas-Houston Chapter webpage.  They have a great PDF file of Native Plant Information that has lists of various types of recommended plants for the Houston area.  Unfortunately, about the only evergreen shrub on our list I could find is Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) and it doesn't fit the <6 ft. criteria; however there are dwarf varieties.   On Houston's list there is dwarf Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) and Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto) as evergreens that fit the size criteria.  All were noted to be good for partial shade but to grow taller in favorable conditions.  You might have to prune later on.

                    
Ilex vomitoria
                    Morella cerifera              Sabal minor

  While I’m at it though, I also spotted Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry), one of my favorites.  It’s not an evergreen, but the berries are very striking.  This one might fit well into your plan, depending on the look you may be trying to achieve. 

         

          Callicarpa americana           Callicarpa americana

 Hope this helps!

 

More Shrubs Questions

Patio Privacy Screen Suggestions for Central Texas
March 17, 2013 - I have just built a patio and want to plant some small trees, bushes or shrubs to form a visual barrier (rather than to erect a fence)to the neighbors yard.
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of wild plums (Prunus angustifolia)
July 28, 2008 - When I bought my land, there was a humongous thicket of wild plums (Prunus angustifolia) approx 10 ft high and covering 5-10 acres. I raise goats, and have known that wild plums (the leaves) can cause...
view the full question and answer

Shape of common ninebark in Canton MI
April 24, 2010 - I have planted one center glow ninebark in a triangular area in between my front walk and driveway. It looks a little odd just having one plant, but I originally did this b/c of the mature plant heig...
view the full question and answer

Trimming American beautyberry in Austin
December 20, 2009 - I have recently developed an interest in plants and since I work for a country club taking care of all the House & Grounds Maintenance, the landscaping is certainly a part of my work. I have a questi...
view the full question and answer

Native plants/shrubs to plant under sycamore and redbud trees
September 03, 2009 - I want to eventually get rid of our front lawn. We have a 40 year old sycamore tree and a young but well established redbud tree in the front yard. What are some good plants/shrubs to plant under the ...
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