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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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Wednesday - October 31, 2012

From: Grapeland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Shrubs
Title: Evergreen shrub for East Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am looking for a small to medium evergreen shrub (native to east Texas) for a location that receives some sun in the morning but mostly shade. Something that blooms & attracts butterflys & hummingbirds would be ideal. Would also be beneficial if when pruned the plant tends to become fuller. I would like to keep the shrubs no taller than five feet. The soil here is very acidic.

ANSWER:

The choices for small to medium evergreen shrubs that are native to East Texas are very limited.  Here are a few that I found that should do well.  All will grow in part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day).

Morella cerifera [syn. = Myrica cerifera] (Wax myrtle) may be your best bet.  It is evergreen, grows well in acidic soil, attracts birds with its berries and butterflies with its flowers and has dwarf cultivars that grow to only 5 or 6 feet.  The non-dwarf variety grows to 12 feet or more.

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) is evergreen, has flowers that attract insects and berries that birds and small mammals eat, and grows slowly to about 25 feet.  There are also dwarf varieties available.

Itea virginica (Virginia sweetspire) is semi-evergreen in mild winters.  It has attractive flowers and grows up to 8 feet.  Here's more information from Missouri Botanical Garden.

Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto) grows 5 to 10 feet tall, is evergreen and has fruit that attracts birds and mammals.

If you would like to explore deciduous shrubs for your area, you can look through the plants on the Texas–East Recommended page.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to limit the list to shrubs by choosing "Shrub" from the General Appearance option.

 

From the Image Gallery


Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Virginia sweetspire
Itea virginica

Virginia sweetspire
Itea virginica

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

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