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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.

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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.

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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!

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Wednesday - August 08, 2012

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Need shrubs to replace Mountain Laurel beside above ground pool in San Antonio, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

We are getting rid of a Mountain Laurel because it is 5 ft. away from my above ground pool I want to plant at the base of the pool about 20 inches away some nice evergreen. Do you have any suggestions on the evergreen bushes? I hate to get rid of the Laurel, but I know there will be alot of flowers in my pool and I worry about the roots coming up into the pool, is that a problem? Since we are in San Antonio it is hot so low mainteance is what I want.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants hates to see Mountain Laurels Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) of appreciable size taken out because of the time invested in their growth. I can see how the blooms might be a problem in the pool, but there is generally very few problems with roots since Sophora has a tap root.

To find evergreen bushes, lets look at our Native Plant Database which has  7272 species of plants to consider. Go to the Recommended Species Lists box, and click on View  Recommended Species page. Clicking on Central Texas on the map  will bring up a list of 156  commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Central Texas. This list is too large, so lets go to the Narrow Your Search box on the right side of the page and make the following selections; select Texas under State, shrub under General Appearance, and perennial under Lifespan. Check sun under Light Requirement and dry under Soil Moisture. Click the Narrow your Search button, and you will get a list of 19  species for your consideration. If you click on the scientific name of each species, you will get the NPIN page for the plant that contains a description of the plant, its growth characteristics and requirements, and in most cases images.
If you go back to the Narrow Your Search box and substitute moist for dry under Soil Moisture, you get a slightly modified list.

Here are a few choices that may fit the space that you have. As they mature, some pruning will be necessary to help maintain their shape and size.

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)

Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac)

Another source of information about plant selection is the San Antonia Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas.

 

From the Image Gallery


Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

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