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

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


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!


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.






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


More Non-Natives Questions

Native replacement for non-native Bermudagrass in Leander TX
October 16, 2011 - We have Bermuda grass. Large patches have died due to the drought and our yard has been taken over by weeds and St. Augustine grass whose seeds must have blown in. Even when the grass was in great con...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Indian hawthorns in Lott TX
July 05, 2009 - My Indian Hawthornes have developed brown leaves. I planted them about four years ago and until now they have done very well. I bought some 3 in 1 garden spray for fungus, but I don't know if that ...
view the full question and answer

Looking for non-native Chinese Pistache tree
April 23, 2015 - Where in the Austin area would be a good place to find a nice sized Chinese Pistache to plant in my yard?
view the full question and answer

Dying branches on non-native buddleias in Horseshoe Bend TX
September 19, 2010 - Our Black Knight buddleias are developing branches that die. The leaves just turn brown and the whole branch dies then another and finally the whole plant dies. Do you know what could be causing this...
view the full question and answer

Non-native pomegranate in Albuquerque
September 07, 2009 - I don't know if they are now considered native or not but I am interested in planting Principia or Pomegranates in Albuquerque, windy and a mile high. Do I have a chance?
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