Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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
3 ratings

Thursday - November 20, 2008

From: Spring, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Evergreen native shrubs for hedge in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Please help! Looking for an inexpensive, fast growing shrub or tree to plant along 200' fence in our backyard. Lots of sun (southwest side) but I wouldn't call it dry. Hoping for something that keeps leaves all year round, we have a pool also and don't want to clean up after yet one more type (oaks & pines are enough). Non-poisonous (we have kids) and not ligustrum (I'm allergic). Animals are not a problem, would love something with flowers. Is that too much to ask?

ANSWER:

We'll look for evergreen shrubs that fill most of your requirements, and you can pick one and repeat it all the way down the 200' involved. We could only find two that were evergreen and not considered poisonous or dangerous to children.  These shrubs should all be widely available in your area, and as inexpensive as possible. Follow each plant link to our Native Plant Database page on that plant, see how tall you can expect them to get, what sun or shade they will tolerate, etc. Also, at the bottom of each plant page is a link to a Google search on that plant, so you can pick up even more information. We chose from both our East Texas Recommended Species and Central Texas Recommended Species, as Spring is kind of on the dividing line between the two.

One warning, though: No matter how drought resistant a plant may be, they will need some watering in the first few months after they are planted. Hopefully, you are planning to plant them between now and February, during their dormant periods, but they will still need water, and may need it continuing into the hot season if you are not getting fairly regular rain. If you have trouble finding them, check with our Native Plant Suppliers. Type your town and state in the Enter Search Location box and you will get the names of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape consultants in your general area.

We would not have recommended ligustrum anyway, as it is non-native to North America, but rather originating in China and Japan. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is all about the use, protection and propagation of native plants. They are adapted to the area in which they are being grown, and thus should require less water, fertilizer and maintenance. We chose only evergreen shrubs, per your request, but you need to remember that all plants will drop some leaves from time to time, replacing them with new leaves, but it won't be like the oaks, dumping huge leaves all at once.  Unfortunately, shrubs and trees with showy flowers tend to be deciduous, but all plants have flowers of some sort, as that is part of their reproduction system. 

Our first selection is Morella cerifera (wax myrtle). This attractive, light shrub has fragrant foliage, and attracts a number of different birds. The other is Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush). Often called cenizo, this plant provides a backdrop of soft, gray green leaves to the luscious pinky-purple blooms. Blooms can pop out on this bush almost any time of the year when there has been rain, and it makes a nice hedge. Just don't trim it too much, or you'll lose some of the flowers to overcrowding and shading. 


Morella cerifera

Morella cerifera

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

 

 

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Smarty Plants on lantana in Dallas
September 14, 2005 - For several years, the lantana plants in my backyard in Dallas grew and bloomed all Summer and Fall until the first real cold snap. I've loved having a native plant that didn't need constant care a...
view the full question and answer

Shaping cenizo in Duncanville TX
October 02, 2009 - Our Silverado Sage, which we expected to be 4' to 5' high and wide based on the label when we purchased it about 10 years ago, is nearly 7' tall and very random in shape (not the evenly rounded sha...
view the full question and answer

Dogwood under a black walnut in Mt.Pleasant MI
August 01, 2010 - Can I grow red or yellow twigged dogwood near a black walnut?
view the full question and answer

Problems with Carolina Laurel Cherry from Pflugerville, TX
September 02, 2011 - In 2007 we planted 7 Carolina Laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana)across our back fence. Everything was fine until this year. Three of the trees seemed to get sick and a local arborist said the roots ne...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen native shrubs for poor drainage area in Cedar Hill, TX
March 21, 2008 - Hi! I have one (big!) bed in on the front of my house. Due to the way the house/motorcourt is built, that area (when it rains as much as it did last year!) doesn't drain well. I now have to replac...
view the full question and answer

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