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

Deer resistant plants for Pittsburgh PA
January 30, 2012 - What shrubs can I plant on a wet slope that gets partial sun that will help control erosion? They need to be something the deer won't eat! We have lots of deer.
view the full question and answer

Salt tolerant plants for shade on tidal inlet in NY
August 11, 2013 - Are there any salt water tolerant grasses or forbs with deep roots that grow in shade? I live on a tidal inlet/canal on Long Island NY. The southern bank has cedars and oaks but the soil is eroding ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade, poor soil in Park Ridge NJ
June 17, 2010 - Hello! I live in far northeast New Jersey, by the New York state border. I am looking for plants for areas of my lawn that nothing currently grows in - due to shade and poor soil quality - very rocky,...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant Wildflowers for Oklahoma City
April 16, 2012 - I live in Oklahoma City. I'm not in town very often, and am seeking low maintenance plants. I have MANY trees in my backyard, which makes it quite shady. I have raised beds amongst my rock garden ...
view the full question and answer

Flowering plants for shady garden in Bastrop
July 02, 2010 - We live in Bastrop, 8 miles west of the Historical district. We have a small flower garden in a shady spot around 25 feet from the back patio of our home. We'd like to find out what native plants, f...
view the full question and answer

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