Hummingbird Hill 1501 County Rd 448 Taylor, TX 76574 email: hummingbirdhilltexas@yahoo.com

More Evergreens for Central Texas:

Everyone loves evergreens that make red berries, and the holly tree is the most beloved one of all.  In Central Texas where the dirt is acidic sandy loan, you can grow the beautiful native American Holly.  This pyramid shaped tree gets large - 60 feet, and can take droughty conditions OK as long as the soil is acidic.  Only the female holly tree makes the pretty red berries.  The Yaupon Holly is native to East Texas but is very tolerant of many soil types and water conditions.  It is the most dependable holly tree for Central Texas.  It can grow to 30' x 12 ' under favorable conditions (acidic soil and ample water), but may remain as small as 4 feet where the soil is thin, the water limey, and water scarce.  Plant wild yaupon as a foundation shrub near your house only if you have the latter conditions, or else you'll be pruning a lot.  The fruit of the wild Yaupon Holly may not necessarily be red.  Sometimes they are orange or yellow.  If you buy them from a nursery, you'll most likely be getting the popular red fruiting kind.  Most of the Yaupon hollies stocked by nurseries are dwarf varieties, so you'll not have to worry too much about them growing too large, although the dwarf 'Nana' variety can grow 5'x6' so pay attention to the tags. 

Burford is another popular holly that does well in Central Texas, although it is not native.  It grows fast, and can get 25' x 25', so you don't want this one near your house as a hedge unless you like to prune.  There are also dwarf varieties of Burford holly, but here again - check the label, and count on it growing it's full height in the warm climate of Texas.  Dwarf Chinese Holly (Ilex cornuta 'Rotunda') is not as well known, but also grows well here.  It has very prickly leaves and is not pedestrian friendly. 

Holly trees are low maintenance if you don't prune them, although you can prune them anytime during the year if you wish.  They may get scale, which is a very small insect that looks like brown or gray lumps on the underside of the leaves.  You'll probably notice the leaves getting yellow spots, before you will the scale.  If your plants get scale you can spray them with a horticultural oil every couple of weeks in the spring when the plant flushes with new growth.  This smothers the immature crawling larvae.  Scale is a very strange insect and sometimes a pest of all species of holly trees.  The mature insects have no visible legs and attach to the underside of the leaves.  The have piercing mouth parts that suck sap.  Most insecticides don't work very well against scale because they have a waxy covering.  Green lacewings, lady bugs, and minute pirate bugs are some of the predator insects that eat soft bodied scale, and spraying with a pesticide will also kill these good bugs, but the horticultural oil will not. 

Other popular evergreens with red berries include several that are now considered pests and an invasive species that spread easily by seed and crowd out native plants.  There are several, including Red Tip Photinia, pyracantha, and  Nandina Bamboo.  This is unfortunate because these plants are popular because they grow well here without a lot of pests, and are evergreen with pretty red berries in the winter.  Evergreen sumac is considered a nice replacement for these.  It is native, drought resistant, and bees and butterflies love the small white flowers in the spring.  It has shiny evergreen leaves that shed in the spring with fresh growth, much like the live oak tree.  The showy red berries are fuzzy, which birds love, and they grow on the ends of the stems.  Evergreen sumac is considered an understory tree and can reach 10'x8'.  It doesn't like to be transplanted, so buy potted plants and plant it where you intend it to stay.  It is very drought hardy, but it doesn't like wet feet, so put it where there is good drainage. 

Other shrubs that are evergreen are Texas mountain laurel, which is actually another small tree up to 20', that is as wide as it is tall, if left unpruned.  It has beautiful fragrant purple flowers, but keep on the lookout for web worms in the summer. If you see them treat it immediately to a Sevin spray job as web worms will quickly eat off all the flowering tips.  Sandankwa Viburnum -to 8', wax myrtle to 15' has fragrant leaves.  There are dwarf varieties of 8-10' available.  Agarita to 6' has prickly holly shaped leaves and red berries, glossy abelia to 6' has fragrant flowers and dwarf varieties are available.  Also, most shrub roses make red hips that attract wildlife, and mature specimens are also evergreen in Texas unless the temperature dips into the teens. 

Rosemary is a great aromatic evergreen shrub with bee loving purple flowers that quickly gets about 4x4'.  It is very drought hardy, and can also be pruned, but I don't know why anyone would want to, as it is a lovely little round shrub all by itself.  The problem with Rosemary is that summer spider mites love it.  If you don't mind being diligent with the hose, keeping it sprayed off once a week is the best cure.  Texas sage is another evergreen, although it is more silver than green the same as bush germander.  Both have small pretty flowers which bees adore.  Bush germander often will bloom during the winter, and primrose yellow jasmine is evergreen with early yellow flowers in the late winter.