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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - March 28, 2011

From: Llano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Native Substitute for Boxwood in Llano, TX
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I love boxwood because it's evergreen & provides a great backdrop to my flowers w/o taking over the bed. However, I'm trying to stick with native plants, so can you provide a native alternative to boxwood for me (other than native grasses & dwarf yaupon)? It would need to be able to handle full Texas sun,preferably be evergreen & drought tolerant & also not grow over 3-4 feet tall. All I can come up with is mountain laurel or yaupon, but eventually they would become too tall and bushy. I know you will have an answer to my dilemma. Thank you in advance!

ANSWER:

Yes, Boxwood is a good background plant, nice configuration and evergreen to boot!  Buxus sempervirens, the Common Boxwood, grows as an introduced species in a few states in the mid-Atlantic states, but we’d advise you not to try it in Texas.  There is one boxwood,  Paxistima myrsinites (Myrtle Boxwood) [In common name, note that it is not Buxus] that is found in Texas, but only in one county near San Antonio.

There are a few other Native Shrubs that might be able to fill that purpose for you.  Perhaps you can consider Salvia greggii (Autumn sage) or Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry)?  These fit all your requirements for 3-4 foot tall, evergreen native shrubs.

Slightly taller are Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo) and Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita) as evergreen native shrubs that are found in Llano County.  If you are willing to prune them back, you can keep these to the three feet mark and maybe fill them out a bit. 

Always consider contacting your local  Highland Lakes Native Plant Society and/or the Llano County Extension Office.  They may have information on other choices or ways that you can work with these to fit your plans.

 

From the Image Gallery


Oregon boxleaf
Paxistima myrsinites

Autumn sage
Salvia greggii

Texas barberry
Mahonia swaseyi

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Agarita
Mahonia trifoliolata

More Shrubs Questions

Landscaping in Bertram TX
September 25, 2009 - I have a landscaping job in Bertram, Texas and am looking for all my options as far as full and partial shade somewhat hardy plants. I'm mainly looking for small plants and pretty flowers I can do wi...
view the full question and answer

Smoky Mountains Shaded Slope Plant Suggestions
April 29, 2013 - We live in a very shady spot in Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina. We would like to plant vegetation on a sloped area behind our cottage to stop erosion after building an addition. Our h...
view the full question and answer

Cenizos browning in Houston
October 01, 2011 - After this horrible drought, I am committed to xeriscaping with native Texas plants. The few hibiscus that survived have been transplanted into pots and are thriving. I bid the tiny boxwoods a fond fa...
view the full question and answer

Need for smaller tree with less invasive roots from Ft. Worth TX
June 07, 2014 - The sycamore in the front yard has developed roots larger than the branches. They have decided that the water and sewer lines are perfect to acquire their water from. For this reason it will be coming...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs with berries for birds and growing small red oak tree
September 16, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Recently, I saw a short article about attracting birds to one's yard. The article said to plant "berry-bearing" shrubs, but didn't name any specific shrubs. Could you tell...
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