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?

Share

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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - June 24, 2012

From: Boones Mill, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shade Tolerant
Title: Evergreens for privacy in VA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I need fast growing evergreens or large shrubs, flowering or non-flowering, for privacy. They will need to flourish among large oak and hickory trees that are 75 plus years old. We don't want to damage established tree root systems, which may or may not be a problem. There is little to no direct sun due to the trees. We live in Roanoke, Virginia.

ANSWER:

I imagine that you already suspect that your situation is difficult and your choices limited.

As a matter of fact, when you consider all the variables, the only evergreen that will grow in dry shade to a height of more than six feet and is native to your area is Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon).  If you are willing to give the plants supplemental water you can add Ilex glabra (Inkberry) and Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) to the list.  They are all plants that are commonly used for screening and could do the job for you.  It is unlikely that they will grow quickly, though, as life is not easy in the soil between the roots of 75 year old trees.

It is impossible for us to make a recommendation about a situation we cannot actually see, but you may need to look at alternative ways to create the privacy you need.  A landscape designer may have suggestions of how to combine sections of fence and plant groupings in strategic locations to avoid planting directly below those grand old trees.

 

From the Image Gallery


Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Shrub for Shady Austin, Texas Backyard
July 11, 2016 - I am looking for a colorful shrub or bush for my drab backyard in Austin. It won't get much sun and I want something native that detracts bugs if possible.
view the full question and answer

What will grow under a California Pepper tree?
April 03, 2009 - What will grow under a California Pepper tree with a shady area oak tree nearby in a coastal community?
view the full question and answer

Habiturf lawn in Carson City, NV
October 15, 2013 - I planted habiturf just south of Reno NV May 5. First two months no or little germination because nite temps too cold. Now doing ok except battling purslane and redstem filaree.. SO, I notice bare/spa...
view the full question and answer

Different shades of green in Taxodium distichum (bald cypress)
June 05, 2008 - I have two bald cypress trees 50 feet apart, but there was very different soil in the two holes. One was a clayey soil and the other was much more the Austin limestone soil. The trees are about 2 ye...
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

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center