Rent Shop 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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - February 01, 2009

From: Arlington, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Small shrubs for roof garden in Washington DC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am looking for a hardy evergreen shrub for a roof garden in DC. Needs to be 3-4 feet tall, evergreen, dense, survive the extreme wind, cold and heat.

ANSWER:

This is a tough call. The first thing that would come to mind are the conifers, which by nature are dense, wind-resistant, etc. However, they not only all grow very tall, but are difficult to transplant, and certainly would not survive long in a pot because of long taproots. The limit in height is a challenge with almost all shrubs we looked at, but many popular species are now available in dwarf or shorter versions. These are usually selections developed by nurseries from naturally shorter versions of the shrub. One of our favorite shrubs, probably because we love the name, is Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick). This is low-growing, dense and evergreen, often used as a ground cover. The others are all members of the Ilex or holly genus, and all would either require extensive pruning or the use of a dwarf version to stay within your size specifications. These plants are Ilex glabra (inkberry), Ilex opaca (American holly) and Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

You can follow the links to pages on the individual shrubs, noting their prospective heights, blooms, etc. If you have difficulty locating the plants, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in the name of your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape and environmental consultants in your general area. They will have contact information so you can inquire about the availability, especially of dwarf versions.


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Ilex glabra

Ilex opaca

Ilex vomitoria

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Native plants for flower beds in Aledo, TX
March 10, 2009 - I have 2 beds that together run the length of the house foundation (25' each), we have 2 spots I would like to plant a Yaupon (Pride of Houston) in each spot approximately 2' from the foundation;is ...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for a small tree for cemetery in NH.
August 30, 2012 - I would like suggestions for picking a SMALL tree for a rural cemetery in Winchester, NEW HAMPSHIRE. Would the delicate Japanese Elm be suitable for the weather, etc?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification for shrub in Florida
September 03, 2011 - On our street we have ornamental shrub planted in the median that has small waxy green leaves, produces small fragrant white flowers, and red berries with white pulp and small seeds on the inside. Th...
view the full question and answer

Low growing erosion control plants for lakeside in Washington Township NJ
May 12, 2013 - I live on a small lake in Northern NJ and have installed beautiful Boulders along the water to help stop erosion. Now I want to add plants along the property but would like low growing, soil retentio...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for a barrier hedge
October 13, 2008 - Is there a native hedge I can plant to provide privacy? I have hostile neighbors behind me and would rather plant a hedge than put up a fence. I looked through the Virginia native species and didn'...
view the full question and answer

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