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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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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

 

 

 

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