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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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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.


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