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 - February 07, 2011

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Need an evergreen shrub to hide a concrete wall and not attract bees in Cedar Park, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I am looking for an evergreen shrub that I can plant in our yard to hide a 3' concrete wall. The area receives full sun during the day, and we would like something that is drought resistant. We also have dogs and small children, so we need something non-toxic and that will hopefully not attract bees. I see a lot of boxwood around, but I would like to change it up a bit with something a bit more decorative. We live in the Austin area. Oh, and if it is fast-growing that would also be a plus. Thanks for your help!

ANSWER:

Lets see, we need an evergreen shrub that looks better than a concrete wall, is non toxic, and fast growing. This I think we can do. The part about the bees puts a little sport in the game since many of the plants that Mr. Smarty Plants would normally recommend are flowering plants that are pollinated by bees.

One way to get around this is to focus on wind-pollinated plants which would mostly include ornamental grasses and conifers. A lot of trees are also wind-pollinated, but you need something smaller.

In order to find some possibilities for your plant project, lets go to our Native Plant Database and check it out. After clicking on the link, scroll down to the Combination Search Box, and make the following selections: choose Texas under State, Grass/grass-like under Habit, and Perrenial under Duration. Check Sun under Light requirement, and Dry under Soil moisture. Click the "Submit combination Search" button and you will get a list of 57 native species occurring in Texas that meet these parameters. Clicking on any name on the list will take you to the Native Plant Database page for that plant. There you can learn characteristics of the plant, such as habitat, size, growing conditions, benefits, etc.

Here are a couple of possibilites:

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

An old standby conifer for hiding things is the Eastern Red Cedar Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar) but it can grow up to 40' tall. For the size wall that you have, you might consider dwarf varieties with a height of 6 - 20' that are described at these links : UConn Plant Database,   North Carolina State University, and Waynesboro Nurseries.

When we are asked about toxic plants, we usually go to the databases listed below.

 

Toxic Plants of Texas

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

California Poison Action Line


Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Sorghastrum nutans

Juniperus virginiana

 

 

 



 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Small evergreen shrubs for part shade in Texas
January 31, 2015 - Mr. Smarty Pants, I'm, for some reason, at odds with myself about a shrub decision. I have need about 8 ft of hedge-like evergreen shrub(s) that I can maintain around 4ft to go under a window. It...
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive Siebold viburnum from Isleboro ME
June 17, 2012 - I was given several small Siebold Viburnum for planting on my Maine property. Even though it is often for sale in nurseries, I'm aware it is listed as invasive in several eastern states. Shouldn't I...
view the full question and answer

Propagating Silky Sophora by seed from Elmendorf TX
July 24, 2013 - I have some seed for the Sophora nutalliana. What is the best way to germinate this seed?
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for area around underground storm shelter
May 27, 2013 - We want to plant shrubs around our underground storm shelter to divide it from our parking area. Obviously, this is to avoid having someone drive on top of the shelter. What native shrub to North GA ...
view the full question and answer

Native landscape in Central Austin
September 02, 2007 - We live in Central Austin and are landscaping part of yard. We planted a 30 gallon red oak tree, built sizeable beds around it and want to complete the landscaping with native grasses, shrubs, climbin...
view the full question and answer

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