Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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

Connecticut Plants for a Steep Slope
September 09, 2015 - I am looking for the best plants to retain a steep, dry, fully shaded slope in zone 5, Connecticut. It must be deer resistant. Plant height is not a factor.
view the full question and answer

Desert or littleleaf sumac (Rhus microphylla) on Texas State Capitol grounds
May 07, 2007 - I am trying to find out what kinds of plants are planted on the Texas State Capitol Grounds. There is a bush that grows around the Capitol Extension windows area and I don't know what they are. The...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for fenceline in Houston
September 13, 2009 - I live in Houston, TX and would like your suggestion on what plants, trees or shrubs would work best to grow alongside a fence to hide a neighbor's backyard. We all have relatively small backyards.
view the full question and answer

Small evergreen shrubs for part shade in Texas
January 31, 2015 - Mr. Smarty Pants, I'm, for some reason, at odds with myself about a shrub decision. I have need about 8 ft of hedge-like evergreen shrub(s) that I can maintain around 4ft to go under a window. It...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Cleyera and Red-tip photinia
June 01, 2008 - I planted a row of Cleyera in a bed that receives sunlight for about 3 hours during the middle of the day. My problem is that a number of the plants are dying. It begins with the leaves on one small...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.