A herbaceous plant is a plant that has leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season to the soil level.
Centranthus ruber is a versatile plant, able to be used almost anywhere in the landscape except full shade. Long blooming except during the heat of the summer. Deadhead after the spring bloom for better appearances. Reseeds some, but not a problem. Quite drought tolerant, it will still do nicely in medium and high water use areas, except for wet, soggy clay. It appreciates good drainage and moderate amending but will do well in poor soil. Centranthus ruber 'Alba' is a pleasant white blooming variety. Readily available at local nurseries.
Cranesbill belongs to the same Geraniaceae family as do the Pelargoniums, those red, hot house geraniums we all love. Both are perennials, however many cranesbill (referred to as the true geraniums) are cold hardy for us. Alpenglow is semi-evergreen, and evergreen in warm winters. Notice the intricate cut leaf patterns, which are much admired by myself and others. A good understory plant for the edge of a shady border.
The most remarkable quality of Red Dragon Persicaria is its burgundy red patterned leaves and red stems, a plant grown much more for its foliage than flowers. (The flower stalk in the upper right is of Acanthus spinosus.) Not a native (native to China) it will come back if nipped by a late frost and will suffer sunburn in afternoon sun. Red Dragon may take 3 years before flowering, however, that is not a drawback.
Verbascums make a presence in the wildflower or cottage garden and mixed border, whether it be this common mullein, or another species with showier flowers. Verbascums can be either biennial or perennial, but will make enough seeds you’ll never be without. Some are drought tolerant and thrive in poor, but well drained soil, others may need medium water use and a richer soil.
Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks', arching branches similar to S. canadensis 'Golden Baby', only is low water-use and more golden in color. Fireworks goldenrod will also flower in summer and again in the fall. Makes a great splash in the summer garden.
Purple or desert sage prefers leaner, quick draining soils. It is said to grow 2-3 feet tall and deeply branched with silver gray foliage and a profusion of violet bluish flowers atop spikes in late spring and summer. Low water-use, but does better with once a month irrigation. One of the finest flowers of the desert, it is the sage of Riders of the Purple Sage, by Zane Grey. Grows throughout the Great Basin Desert.
A good drought tolerant ground cover for use in a border, in a xeristrip or a rock garden. Evergreen grayish green leaves with fine hairs (tomentose). Will grow too tall and gangling in too rich and moist a soil. Some areas of the country have noted Cerastium tomentosum to be invasive, but I have not seen those tendencies here. A good substitute for the annual alyssium. Cerastium tomentosum var. columnae is a commonly available variety.
Green sword-like foliage with striking bell or funnel shaped flowers that last only a day. Hundreds of different hybrids and cultivars in a wide range of colors, some early, mid and late summer blooming. Daylilies do better in medium, well-amended soil and a sunny location that enjoys afternoon shade, but they are versatile. Daylily leaves may exhibit alkalinity in clay soil. If this is the case, amend well with organic matter.
Another old garden perennial that’s still good for our Panhandle cottage gardens, Physotegia virginiana is native to eastern and southeastern US. A terrific addition to the late summer and fall garden. Comes in three pleasing colors of light pink, purplish pink and a real pretty white. The white variety "Miss Manners' and 'Summer Snow' are both better mannered, not spreading quite as vigorously. It's native habitat is in moist, rich soils, but keeping it on the lean side makes it more "obedient".
Lady in Black aster is an improved selection over the Midwestern native, Aster lateriflorus (now Symphyotrichum lateriflorus). Dark canes with musty purple leaves provide a striking contrast in the flower beds and borders that become covered with tiny white aster flowers with pink centers. Truly stunning bee and butterfly magnet for about 3 weeks in autumn.
Similar in form to Callirhoe involucrata, Callirhoe alcaeoides 'Logan Calhoun' grows natively from the Midwest to southern plains. While Callirhoe alcaeoides can be pink, to pale pink and pale lilac, 'Logan Calhoun' is pure white. Spreads over an area similar to wine cups, the foliage and flowers are finer. I've found it to be drought tolerant; water monthly to insure continued blooms. Blooms will rest during the heat of the summer and continue following rains or cooler weather.
Gooseberryleaf globemallow is very close in appearance to scarlet globemallow, Sphaeralcea coccinea, but much taller, up over 2 feet. The leaves are silver green and hairy, resembling the leaves of the current shrubs in shape, so named from the family name of currents and gooseberries, Grossulariaceae. Flowers are orange in color and bloom from May and June, sometimes later in the summer. Native to hot, dry areas semi-arid regions throughout the Southwest and the Great Basin Desert. Prefers good to sharp drainage.
Although usually sold as Clemantis paniculata, it could be C. terniflora. Sweetly fragrant, low water-use vigorous growing vine for great late summer display. Creamy white flowers form silvery seed heads. Cut back in spring as it blooms on new growth.
Heucheras are native to the North American continent and make wonderful foliage and flower plants for your woodland border. Grown mostly for its interesting, evergreen foliage, coral bells will continue to flower on mature plants if kept deadheaded into the summer. Although the native heucheras are great in themselves, there are hundreds of hybrid cultivars to choose from.
Native perennial wildflower that will bloom periodically from spring into fall (presumably when there is adequate moisture). I have seen it many times in nature in the Texas Panhandle and West Texas. After the flowers have peaked, they do not fall off, but turn light and papery. They make a good dried flower. Reseeds!
This wildflower is toxic to sheep and possibly cattle. Humans should not eat any part of this plant. The flowers are fragrant and are attractive to bees, birds and butterflies.
Calamint, a member of the mint family, sparkles with white/pale lavender flowers in late summer into fall. Solid green foliage emits a pleasing mint fragrance. Attracts bees. Sometimes referred to as lesser calamint. Calamintha nepeta spp nepeta covers itself with light blue flowers.
Perennial vine native to the Southwest. Late summer to fall bloom with slender, thin whitish sepals, followed by attractive plumes that are feathery seed clusters. The vine is valued for it's delicate beauty of leaf, flower and plume and drought tolerance. Clematis drummondii is a larval host and/or nectar source for the fatal metalmark butterfly.
Elegant and stately desert perennial. Soft light blue green leaves. Stalks can tower above desert shrubs to 5-6 feet, but usually 2-4 feet, with racemes of yellow flowers similar to cleome or spider plant flowers in springtime. Requires excellent drainage and lean soils. Thrives on selenium rich soils. Native to canyonlands in SW U.S.
Elephand ears are plants grown from corms (called bulbs, but not true bulbs), with large leaves on upright stems. Colocasia leaves point downward (Alocasia leaves point upward). Colocasia gigantum and C. esculenta are two species most often used. These plants are grown primarily for their foliage and prominant veining, rather than flowers. The flowers are typical aroid type with a white to yellow or light green spathe, and may not even flower in shorter growing seasons.
Reseeding biennial, native to Texas, and the southeastern US. The red tubular flowers make it attractive to hummingbirds. The upright stalks are brittle and break off easily.
Standing cypress will flower the first year, and may, or may not come back a second year, but you should see some seedlings. Transplant those. The glossy green foliage to the right in this picture belongs to Anisacanthus quadrifidus wrightii, flame acanthus.
Rudbeckia is advertised as heat and drought tolerant, but I have not found it so. I’ve found it to require at least weekly watering during the heat of the summer. A shortlived, southern native perennial, it likes the humidity and rain from southern climes. These very large and stunning composites may be worth your effort, just place within the correct hydrozone.
Victoria blue salvia is usually not cold hardy in the Texas Panhandle, but every once in awhile, one will winter over. But that shouldn't stop you from replanting this lovely, summer long blooming native to regions further south, classified by some to be one of the top ten flowers for Texas gardens. Upright and dense flower stalks in blue, white (Alba) and deep blue or violet. Salvia farinacea continues to be hybridized to create new introductions. Often referred to as mealycup sage, its stately appearance deserves the nobler moniker, Victoria Blue.
Native to the plains, Coreopsis tinctoria, has naturalized throughout most of the U.S., especially in disturbed soil. Prefers moist sandy soil. An annual, it may last more than one year. Very showy flower with yellow outer rays, with a maroon blotch towards the center ray. Sow seeds in early spring. Heat tolerant, once a month watering is recommended for well drained soil.
Western ironweed is a prairie native to the Great Plains states. Mid-summer to fall deep purple flowers clusters appear at the top of stalks. Ironweed can be invasive, rooting madly down to a foot so control could be difficult. Drought tolerant and cold hardy for the right location.
Many Aquilegia’s are native to the U.S. Golden columbine, Aquilegia chrysantha is a Texas and southwest native, has yellow flowers and can take more sun than some varieties. McKana's Giant is the hybrid columbine most often sold. Large beautiful bi-colored flowers dazzle in woodland and shady area. Rocky Mountain columbine, Aquelegia caerulea; and wild columbine, A. canadensis, are other common columbines. Rocky Mountain columbine is the state flower of Colorado.