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Saturday - April 23, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Best of Smarty
Title: Smell barrier around chicken pen in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


What are some shade to part-shade loving, aromatic plants (akin to Lavender or Jasmine) that will do well in Central TX? I'm trying to plant things around my chicken pen that'll create a smell barrier. I'd choose Lavender, but there is a significant degree of shade there.


If we understand you, you are looking for a plant that will grow in shade and emit a pleasant fragrance that is strong enough to counterract the smell of the chicken pen. We have to say, we don't ever remember being asked that question before, which makes it hard to rely on previous experience. To be honest, we think that sufficient distance is about all that would really help, but we'll see if there is a native plant that might be of some use.

First, both jasmine and the various aromatic Meditteranean herbs, like lavendar and rosemary, are non-native to North America. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America, but to the area in which those plants grow natively. Jasmine originates in China, and the lavendar and rosemary in the Meditteranean Basin.

Many of the aromatic plants belong to the Lamiaceae or mint family, and some members of that family are native to the Austin area; for instance, Salvia roemeriana (Cedar sage). Some sages have pleasant blooms and fragrances and will grow well in part shade (2 to 6 hours of sunlight daily) or shade (less than 2 hours of sun). Another possibility is Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle), a medium size shrub, which is evergreen, and the leaves have a pleasant fragrance when they are disturbed.

We are going to list some other sages native to this area, and you can follow each plant link to get more information on these plants. Frankly, we don't think this is going to do what you want it to. These plants have pleasant fragrances to attract pollinators, not to serve as chicken pen fresheners. We would suggest moving the nose or moving the pen.

Salvia azurea (Pitcher sage)

Salvia coccinea (Scarlet sage)

Salvia engelmannii (Engelmann's sage)

Salvia lyrata (Lyreleaf sage)

Salvia pentstemonoides (Big red sage)

Salvia texana (Texas sage)

Salvia roemeriana (Cedar sage)

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)


From the Image Gallery

Pitcher sage
Salvia azurea

Scarlet sage
Salvia coccinea

Engelmann's sage
Salvia engelmannii

Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Big red sage
Salvia pentstemonoides

Texas sage
Salvia texana

Cedar sage
Salvia roemeriana

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

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