Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Monday - December 15, 2014

From: Merced, CA
Region: California
Topic: Invasive Plants, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Replacement for waxleaf privet
Answered by: Nan Hampton


i just removed some waxleaf privet due to reading about the invasive and allergy problem to it. Is indian hawthorn blueberry muffin any better? what shrub do you recommend? I want it to grow about 6-10foot along the fence, attracting bees would be cool, too.


Our mission at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes.

Raphiolepis umbellata 'Blueberry Muffin' (Indian hawthorn) is an Asian native; and, as such, we would not recommend your planting it.   Additionally, it grows to only 4-5 feet tall and I believe you are wanting something that is 6-10 feet tall.  Below are several shrubs that will grow to the height you require and that are native to Merced County.  As natives, they are adapted to the soils and climate of your area and are more likely to thrive.

Atriplex lentiformis (Big saltbush) is evergreen, grows to 8 or 10 feet and is of special value to native bees. Here is the Plant Guide from the USDA and here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery about a cultivar called 'Breweri'.

Baccharis pilularis (Coyotebrush) grows up to 8 feet, is evergreen or semi-evergreen and is of special value to native bees.  Here is more information from California Flora Nursery.

Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon) is evergreen, usually grows 6-8 feet tall and is of special value to native bees.  Here is the Plant Guide from the USDA and here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery.

Umbellularia californica (California laurel) is evergreen and is a slow grower to 40 feet; however, it usually remains as an erect shrub in dry areas.  Here is the Plant Guide from the USDA and here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery.

Congratulations on getting rid of the waxleaf privets!   You won't be sorry.


From the Image Gallery

Baccharis pilularis

Baccharis pilularis

Heteromeles arbutifolia

Heteromeles arbutifolia

California laurel
Umbellularia californica

California laurel
Umbellularia californica

More Privacy Screening Questions

Oak root resistant hedge for Southern California
December 28, 2013 - I live in Southern California and my cypress hedge has oak root fungus. What kind of hedge can I plant that will grow fast and be resistant to the fungus?
view the full question and answer

Privacy hedge, thick, fast-growing in Georgetown TX
August 31, 2010 - I want to plant a privacy hedge in Austin Texas Edwards escarpment so it's rocky soil. Looking for something thick, fast growing and can be kept to 7'. It's along a wrought iron fence and ranges fr...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for a screen in DC
May 05, 2011 - Live in Washington DC vicinity (zones: 7-8). Looking for hardy shrubs to screen a 47 foot long picket fence and provide barrier to neighbor. It is western exposure with sun light. Ideally evergreen, d...
view the full question and answer

Alternate native plants for bamboo as a privacy screen in Austin, TX.
July 26, 2011 - Can you recommend a bamboo that I can plant, acting as a privacy screen, reaching at least 10'-12'? We are looking for a bamboo that does not spread, and can take the afternoon sun. It will be pla...
view the full question and answer

Living fence line from Thomasville GA
November 04, 2012 - I would like to create a natural fence line on my property in South Georgia. They need to be pretty dense and horse, cow, goat friendly, growing to a height of about 4ft, preferably quickly! Do you ...
view the full question and answer

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