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

Thursday - March 15, 2012

From: Waller, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Poisonous Plants, Privacy Screening
Title: Non-poisonous, non-allergenic plants for privacy fence
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm looking to put in some plants to create a privacy fence against one side of my property. I'd like a mix of plants that grow well together in order to create a diverse look. I need something evergreen, fairly fast growing, native, and that is not going to irritate my allergies. I have small dogs and young children, so I can't have anything poisonous either. Any suggestions for my area?

ANSWER:

The Houston Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) has an excellent Native Plant Guide with recommendations for all sorts of plants and plant suppliers.   Here are a few from their Guide that should work for you.   I have checked the ones I picked against several poisonous plant databases for their toxicity.  These databases are:

The allergy information is a little harder to find since allergies are an individual reaction to the particular allergen rather than a general reaction to a toxic substance.   However, PollenLibrary.com has a searchable database of more than 1200 plants with information about the severity of allergies to their pollen.   The database can be searched by common or Latin name.   I suggest you use the Latin name for searching any plant database since common names of plants can be quite variable.

Now, here are some plants that I found in the Houston Native Plant Guide that meet most of your criteria:

Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle) is a native evergreen vine with red blossoms that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.   It is not listed on any of the above poisonous plant databases.  PollenLibrary.com lists it as a mild allergen.

Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine) is a semi-evergreen vine also attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.  It is not listed as toxic or as an allergen.

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern) is an evergreen fern that grows in the Houston area.  It is listed as non-toxic to dogs on the ASPCA list and not listed on any of the other above poisonous plant databases or in the PollenLibrary.com database.  It needs shade or partial shade to grow, as well as moist soil.

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) is an evergreen shrub that grow into a small tree.  It is not listed on any of the above poisonous plant databases, but is listed by PollenLibrary.com as a mild allergen.

Cyrilla racemiflora (Swamp titi) is semi-evergreen in the Houston area and is not found on any of the poisonous plant databases above or in the PollenLibrary.com database.  It will eventually grow into a small tree and, as its common name suggests, will grow in wet places.

Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto) is a small evergreen palm that is not on any of the poisonous plant databases but is listed as a mild allergen in the PollenLibrary.com database.

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (Turk's cap or turkscap) is a perennial that, although not evergreen, will retain some of its green leaves in mild winters.  It's not on any of the poisonous databases or in the in the PollenLibrary.com database.

You can also check our Texas—South Recommended page for more options.

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Identification of a cucumber-like vine with fruit
November 16, 2011 - We found tiny, grape-size white melon-like fruit on a vine, with tomato-like/cucumber-like seeds. The leaves on the vine were similar to grape or cucumber leaves, but not spiny. They were behind our...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing, Horse-safe Pasture Tree for Okeechobee, FL
July 05, 2012 - I'm looking for a fast growing tree to plant in pasture that's safe for horses.
view the full question and answer

Climbing Vine for Illinois That is Non-Toxic to Dogs
May 31, 2013 - I am looking for a climbing vine hardy in Illinois (zone 5) that it non-toxic to dogs. Can you help?
view the full question and answer

Are palm leaves poisonous?
August 18, 2008 - Are palm tree leaves poisionous? Because my dad was doing yard work and was stuck by a palm tree leaf in his calf. His calf has swollen and in he thinks it broke off in his calf.
view the full question and answer

White flowering mountain laurel from Driftwood TX
August 23, 2012 - I love white flowering mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) and want to grow one from seeds. I've had a lot of success germinating and growing purple mountain laurel from seeds (or beans), so I DO ...
view the full question and answer

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