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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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Tuesday - February 23, 2010

From: Smithville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Screen plants for part shade in Smithville, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Thank you very much for your reply to my question about planting bamboo. I had no idea it was so invasive. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have for me. My goal is to provide a soft and informal screen to enhance a sense of an outdoor room.(There is a 6 foot black privacy fence, but I want to soften the lines). My light is different all over the yard, but I have two large pecan trees that provide mostly shade. I do have sun during the day but it is intermittent. I am looking for a background for future plantings. I prefer less formal to formal. (I do not care for conifers) Our soil here in Smithville is amazing as you probably know already. I would love to "go native" and plant something that is from our area. Suggestions? Thanks in advance.

ANSWER:

It's always nice when our advice is heeded, and we can feel we prevented one stand of invasive bamboo from ever existing. It would appear that what you need are some shrubs native to Central Texas that can thrive in what we call "part shade," which we consider to be 2 to 6 hours a day of sun. Some may not bloom as profusely without full sun, which is 6 or more hours of sun a day, but you are probably not looking for showy blooming from background shrubs. We will go to our Recommended Species section, click on Central Texas on the map, and search for shrubs could suit your purpose as a loose background screen. By following each link to the page on that plant, you will be able to learn how big they can be expected to grow, what level of water use they have, and what soil they prefer.

Background shrubs for Central Texas:

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) -deciduous, 3-5 ft. tall, blooms white, pink May to July, rose or lavender fruit, berrylike, persists after leaves fall

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - evergreen, 12+ ft., blooms white April and May, low water use

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) - evergreen with gray-blue leaves, 2 to 8 ft., gorgeous pinky-lavender blooms intermittently year-round, low water use

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac) - 8 to 12 ft., semi-evergreen, blooms white, yellow July and August, low water use

Senna lindheimeriana (velvet leaf senna) - 3 to 6 ft., deciduous, blooms yellow August to October, low water use

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - evergreen, 6 to 12 ft., blooms green March and April, high water use

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) - evergreen, 1-15 ft., blooms blue, purple February and March, low water use

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Callicarpa americana

Ilex vomitoria

Leucophyllum frutescens

Rhus virens

Senna lindheimeriana

Morella cerifera

Sophora secundiflora

 

 

 

 

 

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