New Way to Eat Your Greens - Edible Evergreens
Edible landscaping isn’t only a growing hobby; it is an emerging industry. The ability to grow more food doesn’t have to come at the expense of attractive outdoor spaces. Certainly the twain can meet!
Evergreen shrubs are the backbone of excellent landscapes in Houston. They form a consistent presence all year long and allow for creativity and color in nearby spaces. In designing a “foodscape,” consider the many dependable food-producing evergreen shrubs. Using edible evergreens as foundational plants is the way to create a beautiful and interesting space and grow food at the same time. Always remember though: Plant health starts with healthy soil, so you’ll need to take as much care in preparing the planting location as you did in selecting your shrubs.
FIVE EVERGREEN EDIBLE NON-CITRUS SHRUBS FOR HOUSTON:
Pineapple Guava—A silvery shrub/tree that fruits in spring and early winter. Its flowers can be numerous, red, and delicious. Its sweet and tart football-shaped fruit are two to three inches long. Pineapple guavas can grow to 15 feet tall or as a five-foot hedge shrub. Sun or part shade, no freeze concerns for this plant.
Natal Plum—This tropical shrub was once considered too cold sensitive for our area, but some courageous edible landscapers have discovered the opposite. Several delicious varieties, findable in area nurseries, range from three to six feet tall. Natal Plums have estimated freeze concerns around 25°, but that number keeps going down.
Dwarf Yaupon Holly—You are probably familiar with this hardy shrub. The leaves make an antioxidant-rich caffeinated tea; mixed with honey it makes a delicious hot treat. Find some leaves, pick, dry and steep to try (we are sure your neighbors have some). Warning: Eat not the berries of this shrub—unless you need to vomit.
Elaeagnus—Known as silverberry bush, this wild-growing shrub can be easily pruned into a tight specimen hedge or topiary. It grows wider than tall while fruiting many small yellow berries. This is the cranberry of the South; its berries are excellent for punches, preserves, jams and jellies. Maxing out at seven feet tall and 10 feet wide, the silverberry bush makes an excellent green wall. Some sun and some shade.
Grumichama—An immigrant from Brazil, this beautiful dark green shade-loving shrub has tasty dark-cherry-like berries. It can reach heights of eight feet but can be hedged down to five feet. Very cold weather and droughts are a concern for this wonderful shrub, so plant only in protected and irrigated areas.