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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Tuesday - July 26, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Privacy Screening
Title: Alternate native plants for bamboo as a privacy screen in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Can you recommend a bamboo that I can plant, acting as a privacy screen, reaching at least 10'-12'? We are looking for a bamboo that does not spread, and can take the afternoon sun. It will be planted in the Oak Hill area of Austin, TX. Thank you!

ANSWER:

The short answer is yes and no, but first a word from our sponsor. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants grow natively. The one species of bamboo that is native to North America is Arundinaria gigantea ( see also) It prefers moist habitats, and may not present the look that you want.

The other species of bamboo that you see in landscapes are non-native, and as such, fall outside the focus of the Wildflower Center. We catch heat for that stance (see previous question), but native plants are what we do.

One of the attractions to bamboo plants is that they are some of the fastest growing plants on the planet. This also means that some of them can be terribly invasive, and terribly hard to get rid of.

What I would like to do is point out some alternatives to using bamboo as a privacy screen. Mr. Smarty Plants is continuously receiving inquires about which plants to use for privacy screens, so he is going to refer you to several previously answered questions on this topic. Its like a sharing of the ancient wisdom of the “Green Gurus” if you will. Most of these will be from Texas.

In these answers, you will find directions for using our Native Plant Database, and lists of plants that have been suggested for various locations. Some of the answers have links to other previous questions that Mr. Smarty Plants has answered.

6810

6639

4355

1887

5327

In an attempt to appear fair and balanced, here is a link to the Texas Bamboo Society.

 

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October 13, 2008 - Is there a native hedge I can plant to provide privacy? I have hostile neighbors behind me and would rather plant a hedge than put up a fence. I looked through the Virginia native species and didn'...
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March 20, 2014 - Is there a native vine that does not get top heavy in order to provide privacy from the bottom to the top on an expanded metal mesh fence? It's okay if it dies back, but prefer for it to be evergree...
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