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
Not Yet Rated

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

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Shade-loving native plants for South Carolina
January 08, 2008 - I am looking to incorporate a native plants section in my backyard. Shade seems to be a limiting factor in some parts, especially where I would look to create a natural hedge bordering my neighbor's...
view the full question and answer

Decorative Trees for Scenic Bench in Fairhope IL
June 10, 2012 - I am looking for a recommendation for a pair of small trees (does not grow taller than 18-20 feet) that can provide shade on either side of a stone bench. The site is in full sun, western exposure an...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for shade in Paris, Texas
November 02, 2009 - I have a south exposure with 2 large sycamore trees. Noon sun in patches and mainly dappled shade but not dense. I'm consideering planting asian ivy. The soil is "sandy loam" but it's very sand...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade native to New York
June 13, 2006 - I am gradually trying to convert my garden to all natives. I am working in a shaded area under a maple tree. Are there any varieties of epimediums/barrenwort or hellebores that are native to the nor...
view the full question and answer

Shade tree for cemetery in Wilmington DE
September 13, 2009 - We are looking for a shade tree for a cemetery in Delaware. The tree will be planted only a few feet from some existing gravesites. What trees would you recommend that will not interfere with the ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center