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
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

Fighting Sandburs with Bluebonnets in Austin, Planting Bluebonnets in Caliche soil
September 22, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, In my continuing fight against sandspurs I've decided that if I plant a copious amount of bluebonnets seeds that the foliage will choke out the sandspurs because bluebonnets set...
view the full question and answer

Controlling Triadica sebifera (Chinese tallow tree)
July 20, 2013 - We are trying to remove Chinese tallow trees from the lake bed on Lake Buchanan. We cut them down, but they grow back from the roots. They are very hard to dig out. Do you have any suggestions for how...
view the full question and answer

Identification and replacement of chinaberry tree (Melia azedarach)
April 24, 2007 - I am trying to identify and locate a native tree. We live in Fairview, near Allen, Texas. It is in bloom now. It has fragrant small lavender 5 petal flowers in clusters. They develop into yellow/t...
view the full question and answer

Invasive definition kalanchoe pinnata
June 05, 2006 - The plant Kalanchoe pinnata is listed as being invasive. What does that mean? Is it a weed or does it interefere with metropolitan plumbing? (root system)
view the full question and answer

Tropical plants for pool landscape in Plano TX
April 05, 2011 - I have a small yard with a pool that I would like to tropically landscape. It faces west (lots of direct sun) and there is about a 3 foot parameter between the fence and the coping. Currently I have...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center