landscape design, plant selection

Pool problems: my head is swimming trying to decide WHAT to put behind my pool!

Charlene from Texas writes: “Hey, we have a spot behind the pool that gets only a few hours of LATE afternoon, intense sunlight.  Any suggestions?  We have nandina on one side and lorapetalums on the other with wax myrtles behind all. I’d love abelia but hubby thinks that won’t get enough sun.  Thanks!”

When a plant is listed as FULL SUN, it assumes most of the day it will get direct sun.  PARTIAL SHADE lovers – especially those that are grown for the bloom –  need sun for at least a few hours a day.  However, using a shade plant in a spot where afternoon reflective sun might hit it from the pool can be an issue.  Another consideration using a flowering shrub near a pool is WHAT pollinates it?  If the answer is butterflies or moths or hummingbirds, great.  But what if it is a BEE plant?  Will that become an issue with bare feet running around the area?


datura (Datura wrightii), also known as Jimsonweed, is a Texas native that sparkles at night pollinated by hawkmoths (

Certainly for Texas, glossy abelia (Abelia grandiflora) would be an option if you have ample room for its size (8′ ht.X5’w, except for more compact selections, such as ‘Golden Glow’ or ‘Francis Mason’).  But also consider a native shrub to make your hedge.  Abelias hale from China (and I don’t mean the one just out of Beaumont, TX!), so they may require a bit of extra care.  Check out  to find the right shrub for the spot.  A few of the things to look at include: 1) mature size, 2) evergreen or deciduous, 3) pollination source, 4) when/if/time of day it has showy blooms and what color are they, 5) poisonous parts, especially if young children or pets might be in the area, and 6) soil type/water needs.  Also, don’t be afraid to use variety, just like nature does.

MYTH:    Although LOTS of flowering plants thrive in the summertime heat, not all require full sun.  Watch your location during different points of the day and chart the sun’s progression.

bee in shade and water-loving crinum lily (Crinum americanum)

 Seasonal changes make a difference, too, so watch to see if the sun peeks through a shady spot.  (Overhead trees might also lose their leaves giving a nice winter suntan and a needed respite from blazing summer sun.)  Make your plant selections wisely and the likelihood of having to move or re-move it later on will virtually melt away.

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