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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.

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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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Wednesday - July 08, 2015

From: Redding, CA
Region: California
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Draought-tolerant screening shrub for Shasta County, California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

It has been suggested to me that I plant phodocarpus 'maki' along my fence for needed privacy due to it's dimensions. I need something that does not grow too wide. I would not be pruning them as I prefer a more natural look. I very much prefer to plant natives. Do you have any suggestions for a good alternative that would be a California native? Drought tolerant would be best. Redding has some freezing temperatures in winter and it extremely hot in the summer. Thank you. Miriam

ANSWER:

Phodocarpus macrophyllus var. 'Maki', native to Japan and China, is reported to grow 8-10 feet high and 3-5 feet wide.  This gives me an idea as to size plant you want.

Your Shasta County Native Plant Society (NPS) has an article on Drought Tolerant Plants by Suzy Gallauger.  Here are several suggestions from that list that are evergreen and grow near that size:

Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon) is evergreen and usually grows only to 6-8 feet high and 4-5 feet wide.  It has very showy red flowers and red berries.  Here is more information from Shasta County Native Plant Society.

Frangula californica ssp. californica (California buckthorn) is evergreen and grows to 3-12 feet tall.  Here is more information and photos from Shasta County NPS and from Las Pilitas Nursery (note they give it a different scientific name – a synonym, Rhamnus californica.)

Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber (Smooth mountain mahogany) is semi-evergreen to evergreen.  Here is more information from Shasta County NPS under its synonym Cercocarpus betuloides.

Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn' (Howard McMinn arctostaphylos) is evergreen and grows 6 to 8 feet high with an equal spread.

You can find other suggestions in the Drought Tolerant Plants article on the Shasta County NPS page.

 

From the Image Gallery


Toyon
Heteromeles arbutifolia

Smooth mountain mahogany
Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber

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