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

Tuesday - June 18, 2013

From: Bee Cave, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Ferns, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Container plants for part shade in Bee Cave TX
Answered by: Leslie Uppinghouse and Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr Smarty Pants, I am looking for plants that will thrive on my covered porch in 3 tall planters. These are meant to help me block an unattractive view out my living room window, so they must be evergreen. I need plants that will get to be about 2 ft tall and not more than 1.5 - 2 ft wide, in order to solve my view problem. I have partial sun mostly in the morning and shade in the afternoon. I need these to be pretty low maintenance (the planters are too heavy to move, so must be freeze and heat tolerant), deer resistant and evergreen, of course. Also, they are in fairly tight space so they can't have pointy, dangerous spike ends. I went to a local nursery but nothing seemed to meet all my criteria. If you can make a suggestion, that would be great!! Thank you!

ANSWER:

The way we categorize light requirements for plants is "sun," 6 hours or more of sun a day, "part shade," 2 to 6 hours of sun a day, and "shade,"  less than 2 hours a day. We are just guessing, but we think when we search our Native Plant Database for plants to screen your front windows, it would probably be best to select "shade" as the amount of light you might be able to provide for your container plants.

First, let us suggest that you read our How-To Article on Container Gardening with Native Plants. Next, watch our video presentation on preparing containers for plants by our Horticulture Director, Andrea DeLong-Amaya. We are going to suggest, if you have not already obtained pots, that you consider stacking one pot on top of another of the same size, inverted, or using small outdoor tables, stools or even concrete blocks for your plant pot to stand on, whatever it takes to get it to the appropriate height to shield your windows. If you have a very tall pot, not all of it will be needed for plant roots, but the depth of the soil will really suck up water that the plants don't need, and soon you'll be getting mildew.

We will go to our Native Plant Database, scroll down to Combination Search and select on Texas for state, "shrub" for Habit (first search), "shade" for Light Requirement, 1-3 ft. for Height and "evergreen" for Leaf Retention. Other searches will replace "shrub" for Habit with "herb" (herbaceous blooming plant), "fern" and "succulent." We know you said you didn't want anything prickly but a lot of succulents can take some shade and not all of them are Opuntia polyacantha var. erinacea (Grizzly prickly pear). You can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn its growing conditions, how much water it needs and expected mature size. We will check each plant we select to make sure it is native in or near Travis County so you can be confident it will survive in cold or heat, especially since it will be somewhat sheltered in front of your house.

Well, we got a pretty sorry turnout for our selections. We will list them but you might consider changing some of your requested characteristics - "evergreen" is usually difficult as well as "shade." You can run the search again, changing your specifications and see what you come up with.

Paxistima myrsinites (Mountain lover) - shrub, grows in Bexar County

Equisetum hyemale (Canuela) - herb, Travis Co.

Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata (Heartleaf skullcap) - herb, Travis County

Thelypteris kunthii (Wood fern) - fern, Travis Co.

If you cannot locate some of the native plants you want, go to our National Suppliers Directory, put your town and state or just your zipcode into the 'Enter Search Location" and click on GO. You will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and consultants in your general area. Each has contact information so you can inquire about availability before you go.

 

From the Image Gallery


Hairspine pricklypear
Opuntia polyacantha var. polyacantha

Oregon boxleaf
Paxistima myrsinites

Scouringrush horsetail
Equisetum hyemale

Heartleaf skullcap
Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata

Wood fern
Thelypteris kunthii

More Shrubs Questions

Fruit bearing trees and shrubs for wildlife in NY
May 05, 2010 - What are the best fruit bearing trees and berry bushes to grow in Oneonta New York. We are working on a project for the Oneonta Job Corps that is a green initiative. When we buy the fruit bearing tr...
view the full question and answer

Low Shrubs for Under First Floor Windows in DC
February 24, 2015 - I'm in search of bushes to plant under the first floor windows of an apartment building I manage. I'm interested in both deterring intruders and in making the grounds more attractive. Any suggestion...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Ilex x attenuata (Savannah holly)
July 31, 2014 - Is it hard to take a savannah holly out of my front yard? Do the roots grow down deep or are they more shallow? I can only take a 36-40 rootball circumference because of surrounding established shru...
view the full question and answer

Growing Texas mountain laurel in a pot
March 07, 2016 - I have a really good friend who Mom pass away just recently and they were the best of friends. She loved her mother dearly and did tons of stuff together. Recently I posted a picture of a Mountain L...
view the full question and answer

Wildlife and bird friendly hedgerow for Chicago suburb
November 30, 2013 - Want to plant a wildlife/bird friendly hedgerow in suburban Chicago. Looking for a recommended mix of understory trees as well a shrubs and grasses. Site is part shade with average to wet soil and tr...
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