En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - June 09, 2012

From: The Hills, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Shrubs
Title: Evergreen shrub for northwest-facing wall
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Can you suggest a tall (8-10') evergreen shrub for a site against a northwest-facing wall which gets no sun in the winter but full sun in the summer? Texas sage got too leggy and viburnum will be too hot. I have a couple volunteer wax myrtles but prefer something denser if possible. Thanks.


That is a difficult order with no sun in the winter and full sun in the summer, but here are some suggestions.  If you want something really dense, you could use Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar).  Although it can grow into a medium to tall tree, it can be pruned to remain a shrub.  There are varieties that are more shrub-like in size and shape.

Another possibility is Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel).  It will also provide beautiful purple blossoms in the spring.

Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac) is another good choice.  It is not quite as dense as Eastern red cedar or Texas mountain laurel, however.

Prunus caroliniana (Cherry laurel) can be a very thick shrub but will need to be pruned to keep it at the 8-10 foot height you want.  Here are more photos.

Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri (Lindheimer's silktassel) is a fast-growing, dense evergreen.  Here is more information.

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) is evergreen but with the denseness of evergreen sumac or wax myrtle.



From the Image Gallery

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Cherry laurel
Prunus caroliniana

Lindheimer's silktassel
Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri

Ilex vomitoria

More Shrubs Questions

Native plants both deer resistant and good for erosion from North Oaks MN
August 23, 2012 - We have several partially sunny areas on hills that are prone to both deer and erosion. Our goal is to reduce runoff in an effort to preserve the watershed that provides tap water to many citizens of ...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for erosion from Austin
May 03, 2014 - I live in Austin and my house backs up to Shoal Creek. I am looking for a native creeping vine or something that will grow on the shaded bank to help prevent erosion. It should be able to tolerate the...
view the full question and answer

Small shrubs for roof garden in Washington DC
February 01, 2009 - I am looking for a hardy evergreen shrub for a roof garden in DC. Needs to be 3-4 feet tall, evergreen, dense, survive the extreme wind, cold and heat.
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for fenceline in Houston
September 13, 2009 - I live in Houston, TX and would like your suggestion on what plants, trees or shrubs would work best to grow alongside a fence to hide a neighbor's backyard. We all have relatively small backyards.
view the full question and answer

Heirloom plants for Gault Homestead in Austin
April 15, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, The Gault Homestead at 2106 Klattenhoff in the middle of Wells Branch Subdivision is to be planted with heirloom or heritage plants soon. There is some sun for the planter bo...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center