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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.

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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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Friday - March 08, 2013

From: Monticello, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Landscaping trees and shrubs non-toxic to dogs from Monticello FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We're landscaping and need advice on large and small evergreen trees and shrubs that are native to or will flourish in North Florida. We plan to put in a treeline (large and semi-large trees) as well as some smaller trees and shrubs for privacy and environmental beauty. We live on property just outside of Monticello, Florida (Jefferson County)which is located about 20 miles east of Tallahassee, Florida. We have a small dog that likes to eat vegetation in the fenced-in area behind our house. Although we keep her on a leash when outside so as to reduce her risk of getting ahold of something toxic, she's really, really fast so the risk is always there. We'd rather not plant anything toxic in or near our back yard. She's already high-risk for toxic mushroom ingestion (mushrooms are prolific in our area even though we search and harvest/destroy them as much as we can)so we don't want to plant anything that will cause us more worry. We'd appreciate your help.

ANSWER:

First, before we forget it, here is a list of websites where you can check for poisonous plants for dogs. Just for your own comfort level, these are plant lists you can consult when you are concerned about whether a plant might be harmful to your dogs:

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina

Texas Toxic Plant Database

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants Database

Lists specific for dogs (Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA and Doberdogs).

Usually, our webpage on each plant in the Native Plant Database will advise of toxicity of that plant, but it's always well to double-check. Since we are committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow naturally, we will only be listing trees and shrubs native in or near to Jefferson County. Florida has such a plant-friendly climate, "adapted" plants are used a great deal and sometimes become too adapted, and morph into invasives. Choosing plants native to your area means that they are already accustomed to  your climate, soils and rainfall. Please read our How-To Article: A Guide to Native Plant Gardening.

Now, allow us to introduce you to our Native Plant Database. Using the Combination Search, we will select first on Florida, then "shrub" for Habit. On the second search, we will select "trees." On our sample list, you can follow each plant link to the webpage on that plant to learn its light needs, soil preference and anticipated mature size. There are other choices you can make before the search to narrow down your preferences. At the bottom of that webpage is a link to the USDA Plant Profile Map on that plant which will show in green states where that plant is native. Click on Florida on that map and see if the plant is native to the vicinity of Jefferson County. Also at the bottom of that webpage is a link to Google for still more information. We will check the USDA map for each of our suggestions, in order to be fairly sure that plant will do well in your USDA Hardiness Zone of 8b. We did note that you asked for evergreen plants, and when you go back to make your own selections, you can check "evergreen" under Leaf Retenton on the search page, but you will find that this severely limits your selection.

Shrubs for Jefferson County, Florida:

Amelanchier arborea (Common serviceberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Gordonia lasianthus (Gordonia)

Ilex glabra (Inkberry)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (Turk's cap or turkscap)

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)

Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam)

Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)

Cornus florida (Flowering dogwood)

Fagus grandifolia (American beech)

Halesia diptera (Two-wing silverbell)

Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip tree)

 

From the Image Gallery


Common serviceberry
Amelanchier arborea

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

Gordonia
Gordonia lasianthus

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Turkscap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

American hornbeam
Carpinus caroliniana

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Flowering dogwood
Cornus florida

American beech
Fagus grandifolia

Two-wing silverbell
Halesia diptera

Tulip tree
Liriodendron tulipifera

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