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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 - February 07, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Shrubs
Title: Need a 2-4 ft shrub for the shady NW side of the house in Austin, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


I am looking for a 2-4 ft tall shrub or hedge to plant along the NW side of my house, which is shaded by a live oak. This area doesn't get any direct sun. I wondered if a row of Winter Gem Boxwoods or Dwarf Yaupon Holly might do well? Can you suggest some options? Thanks!!


Given those choices, Mr. Smarty Plants would have to choose the Yaupon Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) because it is a native plant, and that's what we are all about here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The Winter Gem Boxwood (Buxus microphylla japonica), although it is widely used in landscaping, is a native of Japan.

Here are links to three varieties of Dwarf Yaupon

Schllings dwarf

Schellings dwarf 


Bordeaux  requires full sun

To look for other plants, go to our Native Plant Database, and scroll down to the Combination Search Box. Select Texas under State, Shrub under Habit, and Perennial under Duration. Check Sun under Light requirement, Dry (or the conditions that appliy) under Soil moisture, and 1-3 ft. under Size Characteristics. Click on the Submit combination Search button, and you will get a list 20 native species of plants that meet these criteria. Clicking on the Scientific Name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page which has a description of the plant along with growth characteristics and requirements, and images in most cases.

Here are two plants that you might consider:

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)         dwarf wax myrtle


From the Image Gallery

Leucophyllum frutescens

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

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