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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - January 31, 2015

From: Waco, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shade Tolerant, Shrubs
Title: Small evergreen shrubs for part shade in Texas
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Pants, I'm, for some reason, at odds with myself about a shrub decision. I have need about 8 ft of hedge-like evergreen shrub(s) that I can maintain around 4ft to go under a window. It will get some morning sun (1-2 hours) and the dappled sun (3 hours or so) when my red oak has leaves on it. It gets 4-5 hours of sun when the oak does not have leaves on it. The shrubs will live in black clay soil that I have made well draining, and they will be sandwiched between two American Beautyberries. It is the size-shade combination that has me stumped. For example, everything I can think of are understory shrub-trees like evergreen sumac, but I don't know if I can maintain it at the 4ft size. Your wise counsel will be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:

My suggestions for you include Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) and Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita).  All of these species grow well in partial shade and are amenable to pruning to maintain a desired height of four feet.  Ideally, they should be pruned at least a couple of times a year to preserve a nice appearance.  If not pruned until they reach a height of six or seven feet the pruned plants might look rather ragged because of gaps in leaf cover.  Of the three plants I suggest, Wax myrtle is the fastest grower and Agarita the slowest.

These species should be available at one of your local plant nurseries.

 

From the Image Gallery


Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Agarita
Mahonia trifoliolata

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