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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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Monday - June 08, 2015

From: Sugar Land, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Shrubs
Title: Fence Shrub for Sugarland, TX
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Hello I live in Sugar Land TX, I am looking for a fast growing shrub to plant along my six foot wood fence for a privacy screen. There is not a lot of room for them to grow in width but there is plenty of sun. Can you recommend something please? I would like something similar to Thuja but I read it doesn’t do well this far south. I already have considered Ligustrum, wax myrtle and chaste tree. Is there anything else? Is there a bamboo variety that is truly non-running/non-invasive?

ANSWER:

Mr Smarty Plants can make suggestions.  You have a number of decent choices, but none of those you mentioned will work well where you live.   Both native varieties of Thuja don’t thrive nearly as south as you are and we don’t recommend bamboos as they are non-native and generally invasive.

   A couple other similar questions have been received from the general Houston area.  These might give some additional insight as the answers vary a bit from what I describe below.
Flowering Shrub for Houston, TX   
Shrubs for fenceline in Houston

   As you can see, the method used by Mr Smarty Plants is to select from native species that thrive in your area and also have the characteristics you request.  When I went to answer your question directly, I used the Collection for Gulf Marshes and Prairies.  I then narrowed the selection to shrubs 4 to 6 feet high and did some reading to see if there was more useful information in the record.  Of the 17 that result from the selection, these three seemed interesting choice to me, consider these - and, of course, you can review the larger list yourself by following the same procedure.

Hibiscus laevis (Halberdleaf rosemallow)         Grows 4-6 feet - - showy blooms

Malpighia glabra (Acerola)           4-6 feet, illustrations of fence type applications

Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto)          5-10 feet tall - - for a palm type appearance

 

From the Image Gallery


American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Halberdleaf rosemallow
Hibiscus laevis

Barbados cherry
Malpighia glabra

Barbados cherry
Malpighia glabra

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

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