Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Monday - November 15, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with non-native privet in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My 2 privet shrubs/bushes facing the east in a shady area seem to be have less leaves and dead flowers, while across a walk way that 1 privet shrub/bush has lots of green leaves with lots of dying flowers. The same privet faces east and is in a shady area also. Both are on a sprinkler system used intermittently this summer. First time user and tried plant id page first. I inherited these privets with the property (Brodie and Wm Cannon area) 25 yrs ago, so I don't know species, etc. Just looks like every other privet in Austin to me. Hope you can help me. Thanks.

ANSWER:

If you inherited those privets 25 years ago, we would say you are lucky they are still growing any leaves or blossoms, that's pretty old for a shrub like that. However, since the Ligustrum chinense, Chinese privet is not only non-native to North America, but also considered an invasive plant, you are probably fortunate that it has not taken over your yard. See this Invasive.org website on the Chinese privet to find out more about it. Our suggestion is that you let them go ahead and die of old age, while being careful that no berries have sprouted plants in your garden, or take them out now.

Since you say you are new to our website, let us introduce you to our Recommended Species section. Click on Central Texas on the map, and you will get a list of the plants recommended for and available in Central Texas. You can then narrow down the list by using the sidebar on the right-hand side of the list, selecting on "shrub" for General Appearance and adding in characteristics of the area that we don't know, like amount of sunlight and/or soil moisture. You then click on Narrow Your Search. When we did this, without specifying sunlight or soil moisture, we got 27 possibilities, from which we selected 4 of our favorites. You can use the same method to find other shrubs that suit you better, or trees, herbaceous blooming plants, grasses, succulents, or vines, all of which are native to this area.You can follow each plant link to the page on that plant in our Native Plant Database. Please note that blooming shrubs all bloom better with more sun.

Shrubs to replace aging, non-native privet in Austin:

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon - evergreen, 12 to 45 ft. in height, sun, part shade or shade

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo) - evergreen, 2-5 ft. tall, sun, part shade

Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac) - evergreen, 8-12 ft., sun, part shade

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) - evergreen, 10 - 15 ft., sun, part shade

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Ilex vomitoria


Leucophyllum frutescens


Rhus virens


Sophora secundiflora

 

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native wedelia and dayflower in Lihue HI
September 03, 2009 - I have wedelia as ground covering, day flower or commelinaceae takes over. What can I use or spray to rid myself of the day flower problem?
view the full question and answer

Why are the leaves on my Laurel hedge turning brown in Everett, WA?
February 22, 2010 - Our laurel hedge seems to have brown leaves on the top of the bush. We haven't had a freezing winter so we are trying to figure out why some of the leaves are brown.
view the full question and answer

Controlling seeding of non- native, invasive Paulownia from Fayetteville TN
August 17, 2012 - My husband planted a Paulownia tree against my advice about eight years ago. This summer it has huge seed pods. How do I keep the seeds from invading the wooded area of our property?
view the full question and answer

Will Mountain Laurels be harmed by juglones from my pecan tree?
May 06, 2009 - Hi. I just bought a house. It has a big pecan tree at the edge of the front lawn next to the street. I guess it's about 25 feet from the front of the house. I was thinking of planting mountain la...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native crape myrtle from Raleigh NC
March 23, 2011 - I have two crepe myrtles that were planted last year, did well all summer long. We had some freezing weather and this spring their buds are brown with little white flakes(very sparingly) and no leaves...
view the full question and answer

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