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

Thursday - March 15, 2012

From: Waller, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Poisonous Plants, Privacy Screening
Title: Non-poisonous, non-allergenic plants for privacy fence
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I'm looking to put in some plants to create a privacy fence against one side of my property. I'd like a mix of plants that grow well together in order to create a diverse look. I need something evergreen, fairly fast growing, native, and that is not going to irritate my allergies. I have small dogs and young children, so I can't have anything poisonous either. Any suggestions for my area?


The Houston Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) has an excellent Native Plant Guide with recommendations for all sorts of plants and plant suppliers.   Here are a few from their Guide that should work for you.   I have checked the ones I picked against several poisonous plant databases for their toxicity.  These databases are:

The allergy information is a little harder to find since allergies are an individual reaction to the particular allergen rather than a general reaction to a toxic substance.   However, PollenLibrary.com has a searchable database of more than 1200 plants with information about the severity of allergies to their pollen.   The database can be searched by common or Latin name.   I suggest you use the Latin name for searching any plant database since common names of plants can be quite variable.

Now, here are some plants that I found in the Houston Native Plant Guide that meet most of your criteria:

Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle) is a native evergreen vine with red blossoms that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.   It is not listed on any of the above poisonous plant databases.  PollenLibrary.com lists it as a mild allergen.

Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine) is a semi-evergreen vine also attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.  It is not listed as toxic or as an allergen.

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern) is an evergreen fern that grows in the Houston area.  It is listed as non-toxic to dogs on the ASPCA list and not listed on any of the other above poisonous plant databases or in the PollenLibrary.com database.  It needs shade or partial shade to grow, as well as moist soil.

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) is an evergreen shrub that grow into a small tree.  It is not listed on any of the above poisonous plant databases, but is listed by PollenLibrary.com as a mild allergen.

Cyrilla racemiflora (Swamp titi) is semi-evergreen in the Houston area and is not found on any of the poisonous plant databases above or in the PollenLibrary.com database.  It will eventually grow into a small tree and, as its common name suggests, will grow in wet places.

Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto) is a small evergreen palm that is not on any of the poisonous plant databases but is listed as a mild allergen in the PollenLibrary.com database.

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (Turk's cap or turkscap) is a perennial that, although not evergreen, will retain some of its green leaves in mild winters.  It's not on any of the poisonous databases or in the in the PollenLibrary.com database.

You can also check our Texas—South Recommended page for more options.


From the Image Gallery

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Bignonia capreolata

Christmas fern
Polystichum acrostichoides

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Cyrilla racemiflora

Cyrilla racemiflora

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Turk's cap or turkscap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Turk's cap or turkscap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

More Plant Lists Questions

Butterfly Plants for D.C. Garden
July 16, 2015 - I have one half of the side of the house face NE and the other half faces NW. The front of the house faces east. The back of the house faces west which is woody with native trees of Rock Creek Park of...
view the full question and answer

Full list of grasses for Connecticut from New York City
January 28, 2012 - Sorry, this is a followup to the native Connecticut grass query I sent half an hour ago. I see that it was asking for 'recommended species' that I ended up with such a short list of grasses (3). Th...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screen Tree for Patio in NC
April 15, 2013 - What is a good tree to plant in front of a brick wall/fence to provide privacy and not compromise the structural integrity of the wall? The brick fence is my neighbors but I need privacy as they can s...
view the full question and answer

Small Yard Tree for Washington DC
July 20, 2012 - What do you suggest for a tree or shrub in my front yard? The yard is small; 9 ft x 12 ft. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Plants that grow in Canada, US and Mexico from Norfolk NE
March 28, 2012 - Are there any plants that grows in Canada, US and Mexico?
view the full question and answer

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