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?


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

Wednesday - June 12, 2013

From: Buckeye, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Doorway Framing Shrub for Arizona
Answered by: Anne Van Nest


My husband and I live in Buckeye, Arizona and have a door that faces west. Anything on our patio (including our metal door) gets sizzling hot! Is there a flowering shrub that we can put right up against the foundation of our home to "frame" the entryway to shade our front door?


To compile a list of native plants to consider as doorway sentries that will provide shade, go to our Native Plant Database. Under Combination Search, select the following categories: State – Arizona, Habit – shrubs, Duration – perennial, Light Requirement – sun, Soil Moisture – dry, and Height – 6-12 ft. You can further narrow down the list of potential plants by indicating whether you prefer  specific blooming times or blooming colors.

Some possible plants to consider are:
Acacia constricta (whitethorn acacia) 9-15 ft. tall, multi-trunk tree. Available as a thornless selection as well.

Artemisia tridentata (big sagebrush) Up to 9 ft tall. Pick specimens that have a short trunk (instead of being branched at the base). Very drought tolerant.

Dodonaea viscosa (Florida hopbush) To 12 ft tall (and same spread). Good for rocky, dry sites.

Lycium berlandieri (Berlandier’s wolfberry) Up to 7 ft tall and about 4 feet wide. Lavender colored blooms during spring to fall followed by round, red berries.

Mahonia haematocarpa (red barberry) Rounded shrub to 8 ft. Showy yellow flowers followed by purplish-red berries. Foliage prickly.

Quercus turbinella (sonoran scrub oak) A dense shrub to 12 ft high. Can be trained into tree from. Attractive evergreen foliage.

Please check the mature size and spread of these shrubs to see if they will fit your site.


From the Image Gallery

Whitethorn acacia
Vachellia constricta

Big sagebrush
Artemisia tridentata

Florida hopbush
Dodonaea viscosa

Berlandier's wolfberry
Lycium berlandieri

Red barberry
Mahonia haematocarpa

More Shrubs Questions

Bottlebrush buckeye not leafing out from Newburyport MA
June 11, 2013 - We have a bottlebrush buckeye bush that has grown and blossomed for 16 years. This spring the bush failed to produce any leaves and there are no buds in anticipation of leaves. There are a few smaller...
view the full question and answer

Do female possumhaws require male to bloom?
January 02, 2009 - Do female possumhaws require a male nearby to bloom? I've read that about yaupon hollies, but not possumhaws specifically. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Edibility of Washington Hawthorn berries from Williamsport PA
February 22, 2014 - Please tell me if Washington Hawthorn berries and leaves are edible and if so, how to prepare them. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Caterpillars attacking mountain laurel in Marble Falls TX
August 27, 2009 - What are the caterpillars that eat up our mountain laurel? Nothing left but a few stems.
view the full question and answer

Hedge for Austin
April 09, 2009 - Hi. I live in West Austin and am having trouble finding plants for our heavily shaded yard (thanks to our beautiful large live oaks). I love glossy, dark green leaves and big flowers. I love the came...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center