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 User Comments Questions

Clarification of question from Pitcairn PA
April 23, 2013 - What is the best site and book for wild stables in Pennsylvania?
view the full question and answer

Synchronized blooming of cutleaf evening primrose from Brookshire TX
April 29, 2014 - I have cutleaf evening primrose (grandis) that puts on such an enchanting show, opening every evening in late April, precisely at 8:00 , that guests sit in chairs to watch the spectacle. Incredibly, ...
view the full question and answer

Comment on poisonous sweet pea plant from Kalama WA
October 29, 2011 - No question, comment only. I am aware of the story of Christopher McCandless (Call of the Wild)and the belief that he was poisoned by ingesting part of the sweet pea plant; however I am curious what ...
view the full question and answer

Doggy berries
August 30, 2011 - I recently wrote to you regarding my Doggy ingesting some berries from a neighbors out of control fence line-falling onto our property. The answer you gave was 100 % correct! Despite my feeble attempt...
view the full question and answer

Butterflyweed
June 18, 2012 - Can't find a way to say thanks for prompt, helpful answer today from Guy Thompson on starting "Butterflyweed" -- or how to give ans. 5 stars -- so here's thanks &stars! More info than available ...
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