En EspaŅol

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?


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
1 rating

Saturday - July 02, 2011

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Trees, Wildflowers
Title: Container plant to grow in late afternoon sun
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have a shaded brick walkway that leads to my front door. It faces west, and can get very hot late afternoon Houston sun, although it is shaded for the remainder of the day. I have been successful in growing aspidistra in the plant bed next to the front door, I would like suggestions on any small trees, shrubs, or perennial plants that would be able to survive in pots bordering the front door.


Those are tough conditions with the only sun the plants get being the hot late afternoon sun.  You are going to need a plant that will tolerate part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day) and heat.  The fact that you will be growing these in containers rather than the ground is going to make it more difficult.  Plants in a container can become overheated in the hot sun; whereas, plants in the ground will have the heat dissipated better than in a small container.  We have an article, Container Gardening with Native Plants, that you should read.  You should also read the answer to a recent question dealing with plants grown in containers and suffering from the heat. 

Now for the plants—you didn't say but I imagine you would like an evergreen.  Here are a few evergreens that should work:

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) will grow in sun and part shade 6 to 12 feet high.  There are dwarf varieties.

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) will grow in sun, part shade and shade 12 to 25 feet high. There are dwarf and columnar varieties and they can be pruned.

Prunus caroliniana (Cherry laurel) is a small tree that will grow in partial shade to over 20 feet, but could be maintained in a container for several years before growing too large.  Here are more photos and information.

Yucca arkansana (Arkansas yucca) grows in part shade and, with the flower stalk, can be 6 feet high.  Here are more photos and information.

Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto) grows in sun, part shade and shade 5 to 10 feet tall and can grow to be 4 feet wide.  Here are more photos and information.


From the Image Gallery

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Ilex vomitoria

Cherry laurel
Prunus caroliniana

Arkansas yucca
Yucca arkansana

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

More Wildflowers Questions

Mowing frequency of native lawn from Georgetown TX
August 18, 2012 - I have a native grass and wildflower lawn. At what frequency and when should the lawn be mowed?
view the full question and answer

Native Annual Plant Substitute for Impatiens
May 11, 2013 - What can be used as an annual flowering plant to substitute for the diseased impatiens? Is Vinca one you would suggest?
view the full question and answer

How long do bluebonnets last?
April 21, 2009 - How long do bluebonnets last? When should I no longer expect to see the beautiful state flower along the side of the road? I want to know how long I have to take memorable pictures of my children. Tha...
view the full question and answer

Silphium Perfoliatum Seeds
October 06, 2014 - I am trying to identify which part of the seedhead is the actual seed of the cup plant, Silphium perfoliatum. It is hard to find images. Some show the outer, larger, flat part of the seedhead which ...
view the full question and answer

Changing blooming patterns on sunflowers from Kimball NE
September 05, 2013 - The common sunflower seems to be very prolific some years, not so much others. Is this weather related or cyclical?
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center