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Wednesday - November 03, 2010

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Good evergreen screen and some shade plants for Plano Texas
Answered by: Leslie Uppinghouse


We live in Plano Texas. We have 15' between our house and our neighbor. We want to plant a divider/screen of something evergreen, about 6-15' (6-8' is better) and narrow, about 2-3' wide between the houses. The row will run N-S on the west side of our house. We like Thuja- DeGroot's spire or Holmstrup, but don't know if either will take our hot summer. Will either of these be good choices, or is there a better option? Second question: We have a plant bed along our living room window, which is under the patio cover,in deep shade. We want to plant something either colorful or pretty green that can be seen from inside, but won't be too high, that will take deep shade. The height could be up to 2-3'. We had gardenias there, but they were scraggly and didn't flower. Thank you.


Although Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae) is native to North America it is not native to Texas. It would be on the edge of the hardiness scale for you at zone 8. Both varieties you mentioned might do just fine, Thuja occidentalis does tolerate heat as long as the soil is cool and moist, so that would be the hardest part in keeping it happy in your neck of the woods.

Take a look at our Recommended Species area of the Native Plant Information Network on our web site and do a search for native trees in your area, Plano Texas in Collin county. This places you in North Central Texas on that map. You will find a couple of choices that might suit your needs and remove any worry about heat or care.

For a similar feel to the arborvitae, you have two Junipers that would work for your area, Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper) and Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar).  Both are less formal looking than the Thuja but you would never have to worry about the heat. Both can be pruned to shape but would trunk heavier than the Thuja so that may or may not be what you are looking for. Another option that has a completely different look but could be a wonderful solution is the Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon). This is an evergreen multi-trunked shrub or small tree, usually growing no higher than 25 ft. It is easily trimmed into hedges and the female plants produce bright red berries. There are now several cultivars, some producing columnar forms as well as dwarf forms. If you go to our Suppliers List  you can find nurseries in your area that would be able to talk to you more about the different cultivars.

For the second part of your question regarding good shade plants, we will play around with the database and the different types of search options for you to use. First try the Recommended Species area of the web site. This time do a search for your area, which we have determined as North Central Texas. Then narrow the search for shade and the height which would be 1-3 ft. You might find that search too narrow for your needs but it is good practice and useful if you have doubts on whether or not a specific plant would be happy in specific conditions. If you don't mind doing a little homework then try a combination search in the Native Plant Database section of the web site. Here you would choose the whole state of Texas, then narrow the search with shade as a criteria. You will see that there are many more plants listed. Scroll though this list and when you find a plant you like, click on the name and then read up on it's distribution range. This should tell you if the plant will work for Plano. Both are good useful tools. The first we have created to have a good list of species we know are available commercially in your area. The second is a very comprehensive database of as many Native species as we can find for each state. By playing with both search options you should find just what you are looking for.

A tip for keeping plants happy in the shade, is to make sure that they are getting enough water. You mentioned that your bed is under a patio which would indicate that perhaps light isn't the only element being restricted. If this area has no chance of receiving rain then make sure that you are watering that area regularly and amending your soil every now and then.




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