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 Shrubs Questions

Texas sage losing inner leaves
May 14, 2015 - I have a Texas Sage bush that on the outside is beautiful with green leaves. The inside branches (the middle) of the bush are bare of any leaves. Why?
view the full question and answer

Shrubs that non-toxic to horses but that they won't eat
October 29, 2011 - I am looking for a low maintenance, low water, green shrub that horses won't eat and will not be toxic to them. I want to hide my neighbors corral and keep down dust on my side. The horses have "l...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Hedge for Maryland Porch
July 03, 2014 - I am working on a screen/fence, which is a barrier hedge between our house and our next door neighbor's house to add privacy to our screen porch and dining area, especially in winter. The fence would...
view the full question and answer

Xeriscaping in clay on a slope in Fort Worth
April 06, 2006 - Xeriscaping in clay (Fort Worth) on a slope -- Please offer suggestions and publications. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Cold damage to Texas wild olive tree in San Antonio
May 02, 2010 - I have a Texas Olive tree that was unprotected from the 2010 cold winter here in San Antonio, TX. It is the end of April and there is no sign of growth on any of the branches. If the tree is still a...
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