En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Tuesday - May 21, 2013

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, User Comments, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Native replacement for bamboo from Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I've read one reply where you do not advise using Bamboo as a privacy fence plant. What do you suggest in its place? The suggestions on the one I read will not work for me. Your suggestions were Myrtles, Texas Sage, etc. which are nice but the myrtle is to tree like and the sage is too bush like. I need something tall (>10'), fast growing, dense (

ANSWER:

We are sorry, what you have described IS bamboo. Trees, native or not, are tree-like and shrubs are bush-like. There is no law saying you must grow natives; if there were, the courts would be packed all the time with offenders. All Mr. Smarty Plants can do is propose plants that are not injurious to the environment. We believe bamboo is injurious to the environment.

We did find one clumping bamboo referred to as Fargesia that is apparently not so invasive. It still is non-native and we know nothing more about it. From Wikipedia:

"Fargesia is a genus of flowering plants in the bamboo family Poaceae. They are medium to small mountain clumping bamboos, native to alpine conifer forests of East Asia, from China south to Vietnam and west to the eastern slopes of the Himalayas."

We don't think Houston's climate would be good for plants accustomed to alpine forests.

Beyond that, if your desire is for a privacy screen, how about a nice wooden fence? For color it could have some vines native to the Harris County area such as:

Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine)

Clematis crispa (Swamp leatherflower)

Clematis pitcheri (Purple clematis)

Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle)

Passiflora incarnata (Purple passionflower)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)

Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria)

Of course, you may not care for any of these; they are all rather vine-like.

 

From the Image Gallery


Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Swamp leatherflower
Clematis crispa

Purple clematis
Clematis pitcheri

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Purple passionflower
Passiflora incarnata

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens

More Trees Questions

Decorative Trees for Scenic Bench in Fairhope IL
June 10, 2012 - I am looking for a recommendation for a pair of small trees (does not grow taller than 18-20 feet) that can provide shade on either side of a stone bench. The site is in full sun, western exposure an...
view the full question and answer

Can a soapberry tree be grown in Colorado Springs?
May 04, 2010 - I live in Colorado Springs and I was wondering if it is possible to grow a soapberry tree here?
view the full question and answer

Flaming sumacs in trouble in Wimberley TX
August 31, 2010 - I planted three flaming sumacs last fall and all leafed out this spring. Then, early this month all the leaves turned brown on one and it appears to have died. Today I noticed that a second one is d...
view the full question and answer

Sending a picture of an oak from Yorktown TX
December 02, 2011 - How I can I send a pic of my oak in Yorktown near Cuero?
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage to my Norfolk Island Pine in Houston, TX
March 18, 2010 - Houston, Texas experienced a rare 3-day snow event this winter that allowed snow to stay on my 20 ft. Norfolk Pine, in the ground for over 10 yrs. Every branch is now brown with all dead foliage. I ha...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center