Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
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 leatherflower
Clematis pitcheri

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Purple passionflower
Passiflora incarnata

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens

More Shrubs Questions

Non-allergenic landscape in Fairfield, CT
April 18, 2009 - I live in Fairfield, CT and need to have a non-allergenic landscape. Can you please list plants, ground covers, and trees/shrubs that would be beautiful, and help in this critical situation? The lan...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for under a pine tree in Vevay IN
June 29, 2009 - At our office we have a very nice garden however, in the front we have a large pine tree. We cannot get anything to take root & live there. Do you have any suggestions for a native shrub or perennia...
view the full question and answer

Non-native dwarf palm leaves yellowing in Katy TX
March 30, 2013 - 1 month ago we planted dwarf palms, the leaves are turning yellow, does this mean we are over watering them? If so how much water do they require? Is there anything we can give them? We also have a fa...
view the full question and answer

Plants for full sun and clay soil in NY
May 06, 2008 - We live in upstate new york( zone 5) with full sun and clay soil. What flowers/flowering shrubs would be successful in this environment?
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of non-native, invasive English Ivy from Davidsonville MD
March 19, 2014 - Just moved and need to rid the well established Ivy planted on the steep slope area around the back and side of the house as it is taking over the bushes on the top and trees in forested area at botto...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.