En Espa—ol

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
2 ratings

Tuesday - April 05, 2011

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Native alternatives for invasive species
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm a native plant landscape designer in central Texas, and know our plants well. Still looking for any help I can get on replacements for Asian jasmine, English ivy, Nandina, and Red tipped photinia. I try to convince clients to be patient and live with the rhythms of nature (ie, not everything has to be evergreen!)I refuse to put in the above mentioned plants, but when people INSIST on fast growing, evergreen plants (especially in the shade), are there good central Texas native alternatives to these non-native beasts? Evergreen groundcovers and evergreen "screening" shrubs are the hardest plants to replace, especially in the shade. Any ideas?

ANSWER:

We have just the site for you to find alternatives to invasive plants such as English ivy, nandina and redtip photinia.   TexasInvasives.org, in their database, offers a list of suggestions for alternatives to the invasive plants. Trachelsperma asiaticum (Asiatic jasmine) isn't in the Texas Invasives database but it is considered agressive and potentially invasive in Florida.

Other possibilities for evergreen shrubs include Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)—there are dwarf versions for a shorter hedge—and Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita)Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto) is also evergreen and grows only to about 5 feet.

There are several other alternatives for these particular plants that aren't mentioned on the Texas Invasives database.  For groundcovers:

Packera obovata (Golden groundsel) is evergreen.

Salvia lyrata (Lyreleaf sage) is evergreen.

Thelypteris kunthii (Wood fern) is semi-evergreen.

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) and Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge) are both evergreen and do especially well in the shade.

For screening evergreen large shrubs or small trees, there are Prunus caroliniana (Cherry laurel) and Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri (Lindheimer's silktassel).  Addtionally, Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle), when grown on a fence or trellis offers evergreen screening.

C. Colston Burrell's book, Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants, (Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  2006) offers suggestions for selected invasive plants.  Not all the plants suggested in this book as alternatives are native to Central Texas but it does offer some plants potentially suited to this area.

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Is a mulberry tree undesirable?
June 27, 2013 - I have a hard time keeping plants alive, so I was happy when a random plant just started growing and thriving about 5 years ago in my yard. My mom (a frequent volunteer at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildf...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating crabgrass in a newly mulched area in Austin
June 26, 2009 - We just had our whole front lawn taken out. We are starting to plant native plants in its place. The idea was to do whatís best for the environment and reduce maintenance. At this point Iím beginni...
view the full question and answer

Looking for a supplier of Commelina erecta.
May 29, 2009 - I'm looking for a nursery that sells Commelina erecta?
view the full question and answer

Distinguishing non-native Wisteria from Austin
June 25, 2012 - How do I distinguish a native wisteria from a non-native wisteria?
view the full question and answer

Legality of using Chinese tallow seeds for Christmas decorations
December 07, 2008 - If tallow trees are on the noxious list, is it illegal to use the white berries for Christmas decorations?
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