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 - May 20, 2013

From: Paso Robles, CA
Region: California
Topic: Shrubs, Trees
Title: Replacement for running bamboo in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We currently have running bamboo planted next to the side our house facing West, which has provided wonderful shade in front of two large windows. However, because it is running bamboo we are afraid it may damage the foundation or pool and want to remove it. I'd like to replace it with something else - could be potted - that will grow quickly and stand up to the extreme afternoon sun and offer the same type of shade as bamboo. We live in zip code 93446, with cold winters and very hot summers.

ANSWER:

It is a good thing you are doing removing the running bamboo.  For one thing, bamboos are not native to North America and what we are all about here at the Wildflower Center are native North American plants.  The running bamboos also tend to invade and take over and are difficult to control.

As a replacement, I am assuming that you want something evergreen.  All of the plants listed below are native to your area and are evergreen.  I've listed several sites for information on each plant so that you can make your own decision about which one to use.

Prunus ilicifolia (Hollyleaf cherry)  Theodore Payne Organization says that it is slow to establish, but then fast to grow.  California Flora Nursery says that it is tolerant of heat, drought, wind and oak root fungus.

Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon) is evergreen with showy red berries.  According to bewaterwise.com it tolerates "full sun or partial shade, heat, smog, wind and heavy or light soils."  Theodore Payne Organization says that it is fast-growing.  See more information and photos from Las Pilitas Nursery.

Ceanothus cuneatus (Buckbrush) is evergreen with showy blossoms, but attractive foliage without blooms.   Theodore Payne Organization reports that it has moderate growth and it dense.  Here is information from Las Pilitas Nursery.

Juniperus californica (California juniper) is evergreen and withstands heat and drought.  Theodore Payne Organization says that its growth rate is slow.  Here are photos and more information from Las Pilitas Nursery.

Quercus durata (Leather oak) grows 3 to 10 feet and forms dense thickets.   It is, however, slow-growing.  Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery and photos from CalPhotos, University of California-Berkeley.

Frangula californica [synonym=Rhamnus californica] (California buckthorn of Coffeeberry)  Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery and more information from Theodore Payne Organization.  Note that there are several varieties listed for sale. Here are photos from CalPhotos.

Las Pilitas Nursery, located in Escondido and Santa Margarita, has a list, Plants for Central Oak Woodland, with plants native to your area that you can check for other choices.

 

More Trees Questions

Damage to cedar elm from Austin
August 16, 2013 - We have a cedar elm next to the corner of our house that has been dropping lots and lots of twigs with green leaves over the past 3 weeks, while our other elms have not. These rapidly pile up on the p...
view the full question and answer

Source for trees from Burnet TX
August 19, 2012 - I am desperately searching the central Texas area for Pistacia Mexicana male and female trees to buy. I would like about four, maybe more. I live in the Killeen-Lampasas area and have been to seve...
view the full question and answer

Are magnolia trees toxic for dogs?
February 05, 2014 - Del Mar, California- are magnolia trees, (their bark, roots, pods) toxic to small dogs? My Westie terriers are exhibiting lack of appetite and diarrea this late winter. Tonight I saw on our local n...
view the full question and answer

Leaf fall from Cedar Elm planted in clay
August 17, 2008 - I saw the answer to leaves falling off a cedar elm planted in clay. However I planted a Cedar Elm in my back yard. I dug a hole in the grass then planted and put grass back on top. I water every other...
view the full question and answer

Redbud leaves turning yellow in mid-summer
July 13, 2012 - The leaves on our redbud trees are turning yellow. The yellow leaves are pale with no other spots and no dark veins. I don't know for sure which variety of redbud they are or how old they are (more t...
view the full question and answer

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