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

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

Planting shrubs and flowers under pine trees in New York
July 15, 2008 - We just started to plant flowers and the whole back side of our yard is pine trees. I was wondering what types of flowers can be planted under them, and what kind of plants or shrubs can be planted un...
view the full question and answer

Shade Trees for Flagstaff AZ
June 14, 2015 - I live in Flagstaff, AZ and in need of good shade trees all around the house. We live in the Doney Park area (east of Flagstaff) and it is very windy in the spring time. We need the trees for priva...
view the full question and answer

Sumacs under live oaks dying in Austin
August 08, 2010 - Converted my yard to native plants last fall. All of the fragrant and evergreen sumacs are dying off one by one - they have never thrived. I ensure they get a good soaking at least once a week. I w...
view the full question and answer

Plant mistakes from Cedar Park, TX
April 09, 2014 - At our "Wilts End" in Cedar Park, TX. and are looking for a tall shrub/tree that will hide a 6-ft tall concrete wall and muffle the noise from a busy street. The wall forms a very wide-angled V shap...
view the full question and answer

Leaves on yaupon holly turning brown/black
July 20, 2011 - Arlington TX Yaupon Holly has leaves on stems closer to the bottom of the plant and moving up that are turning brown/black. Is this a disease, over/under watering? There is black gummy soil, but it ha...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center