En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Evergreen Shrubs for the Houston area

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
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

Shrubs that non-toxic to horses but that they won't eat
October 29, 2011 - I am looking for a low maintenance, low water, green shrub that horses won't eat and will not be toxic to them. I want to hide my neighbors corral and keep down dust on my side. The horses have "l...
view the full question and answer

Is Ilex glabra a Good Substitute Hedge for Boxwood?
November 08, 2013 - I am planning a new garden in my yard (Mercer County, NJ). My site is south-facing, average water and average soil. The aesthetic look that I want is formal; a tightly sheared hedge of small leaves ab...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Texas Mountain Laurel
November 12, 2009 - How much can I prune a 10 year old mountain laurel to re-shape it and when?
view the full question and answer

Blue plants or flowers in Baltimore, MD
July 27, 2007 - I have a taxi company in the city called Bluecab. The headquarters is in an industrial area and the soil is tough and well, industrial. There will be no watering or maintenance done. Looks like a car ...
view the full question and answer

Sprout from a non-native sago palm in Poinciana FL
October 16, 2013 - I have two mature (10 years old)sago palms. One of them sprouted a new "head' at the top of the trunk. It is competing with the original one. It is not a pup coming from the root area. Can I cut it ...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center