Plants that will live in areas that experience 90-120 heat days (AHS Heat Zone 8) each year where temperatures exceed 86 degrees F. Except for a few limited areas in the Texas Panhandle, our AHS Heat Zone is 8. Plants rated lower than AHS Heat Zone 8 may not survive the summer's heat.
Native to a large part of North America, golden rod is a pleasant addition to your native garden, and contrary to popular myth, does not cause allergies; the pollen is too heavy to be wind born. But choose a variety of Solidago that does not have invasive rhizamatous roots for lower maintenance.
Attracts bees and butterflies.
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.
Golden current makes an attractive taller shrub at the edge of a lawn or vegetable garden, positioned to catch extra irrigation water. For three stunning weeks in spring it will be covered with tiny yellow flowers. I planted two in 2008, and have yet to notice the tasty berries, red currents, for which they are known. Quite cold hardy, if placed in full sun, it'll need twice a month watering to survive, or in half or more shade, once a month watering is sufficient. Multi stem shrub with small, rounded leaves with cut edges makes an attractive barrier or hedge plant.
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.
Virginia creeper, one of our pernicious native creepers, is a worthy low care vine for brilliant fall foliage and deep blue berries (highly toxic to humans) loved by birds. Virginia creeper normally spread by seeds in bird droppings, which is the method it came to my landscape. When spotted early, Virginia creeper easily pulls out, but if not spotted, within no time, it will cover a fence, climb a pole or cover an area. Which can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on one's view.
Alkali sacaton is a perennial warm season bunch grass native to the Southwest. In late summer to fall, airy triangular seed heads wave above the silver green grass blades. Grows in alkali soils, many say in locations where there is moisture nearby, prefering heavy clay soils. It is quite drought tolerant once established, and long lived. It will, of course, grow bigger or smaller depending on water resources.
Oregon grape holly is an evergreen holly-like shrub native to the Pacific Northwest Rockies down into California. Upright, it is slow growing but can reach a height of 8 feet. Best when grown in shade, especially out of afternoon sun. Prefers a more humusy soil but will only required once a month watering when established, however, can also be placed in medium and high water-use areas. Bright yellow flowers in spring, followed by dark blue berries in summer. The thick, glossy, holly-like leaves have spines at the points. Leaves turn from green to red in winter.
Daffodils are the most notable of the spring bulbs. Reliable from year to year, daffodils can be depended upon to bloom even when faced with late season blizzards and are unpalatable to deer and squirrels. Daffodils aren't too particular about soil, but do better in amended soil, planted about 4 inches deep in October to December. Typical bloom times are February through April, depending on the variety, and there are thousands of varieties to choose from.
Karl Foerster feather reed grass is a cool season bunch grass one of the best ornamental grasses for a medium or high water-use area. In a low water-use area, it will take longer to reach mature height and width (the more water it gets, the bigger it'll get). Karl Foerster feather reed grass suffers in the xeric bed during the hotter, drier drought years and may die out.
Our showiest native wildflower; an annual. Little care required. Grows along roadsides and in natural areas throughout our region. Gaillardias are popular these days, with many new introductions all the time. G. pulchella is a good choice for seeding in prairie areas with other native grasses and wildflowers.
A mid height grass suitable for any low water-use garden, city or country. It does self-seed somewhat, but I hadn’t noticed it to be a problem in a xeric setting (simply remove or transplant them). It's greatest attribute is it's gently flowing nature int he wind. It is native to Texas and the southwest. I saw it growing along the slopes of the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park. It pairs well with yucca, agave, Calylophus and any native shrub.
1997 Perennial Plant of the Year was chosen for it versatility in growing in many different regions of the US. And it will grow in our Panhandle gardens as well. Although reported to be drought tolerant once established, it does much better in a medium water-use environment with afternoon shade. When it is excessively hot and dry, it suffers from stress, but usually survive. Just give it a little more water when this happens.
Attractive to bees and butterflies. Seedlings may happily appear in springtime. Native to Europe and Central Asia.
Although there is question in my mind whether pavonia is a native in Texas, it’s been naturalized for a long time and is found growing in the Edwards Plateau and south Texas. Pavonia has been cold hardy for me for at least 5 – 6 years. Readily reseeds to the point of being a nuisance, but this is a minor annoyance.
Black dalea, an autumn blooming southwest native shrub, should be used more in the home xeric landscape. Growing only to about 3 feet, black dalea spreads out with thin, wiry branches and small, green, compound leaves. The shrub becomes completely covered with tiny purple flowers as to be enshrouded in a purple cloud.
Many references are unsure of its cold hardiness to zero, and it had thrived nicely in my city garden in Amarillo. However, it does not seem to be reliably cold hardy. It's a beautiful shrub that provides stunning late fall color that is worth replanting.
You can't have just one. As soon as you plant one, you'll have a drift, then a sweep, then a field if you have the space. But I still don't consider the prairie coneflower to be invasive, merely pleasant. Next to the Indian Blanket, the Mexican Hat shouts Southwest prairies. And its a tough hombre. If your stand becomes too dense or too much, just weed some out. They're adaptable to most native soils and will thrive on available or once a month supplementation. Coneflowers bloom yellow, reddish or brown late spring into fall and make an attractive display when mixed.
Low water-use non-native hybrid shrub (Artemisia arborescens x Artemisia absinthium) from Europe and Asia. Vigorous grower, do not overwater. Coldy hardy to Zone 6. Ever-silver with elegant finely cut leaves. 'Powis Castle' is named for Powis Castle in Wales. Rarely flowers.
For more information and a list a gray and silver leaved plants, read Fifty Shades of Gray, my most viewed page.
Maypop, or passion vine, is a perennial vine native to eastern and southern areas of the U.S. In the South, maypop grows into a woody vine, but in northern areas like the Texas Panhandle, it will die back to the ground. Lobed, dark green leaves, beautiful, unique flowers emerge in the summer to fall, producing edible fruit. Maypop will sucker, especially when ample watering is present. Passion vine, the most cold hardy of the genus, should be cold hardy to Zone 6.
Giant sacaton is one of the largest bunch grasses native to the Southwest, like alkali sacaton on steroids. Seems to thrive in poor soils with no supplemental irrigation. It will grow even bigger with added moisture. Thick textured grass blades, it will rival pampas grass for size and beauty, although it plumes are near as showy, giant sacaton has a flowing fountain appearance. A warm season grass, it is cold hardy and thrives in sun and heat.
Lavender cotton, or gray santolina is a low mounding woody subshrub that should live on the lean side. Not that it won't overgrow if fed. It will maintain its compact shape in poorer soils without amending or fertilizing. Small silver gray leaves cover the shrub. Tiny yellow button flowers appear in summer. Evergreen, the santolinas are native to the Mediterranean area. Aromatic and edible, it's leaves were used as a flavoring in broths, sauces and grain dishes. Low water-use.
Mat daisy is a low growing spring blooming plant. Drought tolerant. Not exactly a groundcover, as the top growth disappears during summer and reemerges as a green basal rosette in fall, getting ready to bloom again in the spring. Blooms late March to May with small white daisy-like flowers that have pink undersides. Forms a compact ground-hugging mat. Will self seed some, but never invasively.
Native to the Texas Panhandle, the south and into northern Mexico. Strong chocolate scent fills the morning air. Xeric herbaceous perennial with a deep taproot. Flower closes up during the heat of the day, staying open during more moderate days. Good choice for naturalizing. Best to keep soil on the lean side, will grow leggy in amended soil. Reseeding profusely. Cut back flower to base at end of June if it becomes too leggy. Within weeks, it'll grow back and begin flowering again.
This is an improved variety to our native gaura, it is known to be short lived for 4 – 5 years, but is worth replacing periodically for its spectacular fireworks display. Placed as a focal point, G. lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies” was the plant most commented on in my front garden. Native more to eastern Texas and Louisiana, a terrific plant for city or country in a medium water-use location. Any plant with long wispy stems that flows with the wind is an asset to your border. Other cultivars to use are ‘Siskiyou Pink’ and ‘Pink Cloud’, two pink varieties.
This is not one of the invasive catmints, but it will reseed some and is not as attractive to cats as most catmints. A low growing, sprawling, drought tolerant perennial that projects a hazy blue appearance with its light lavender blue flowers and grayish green foliage. It is aromatic, not necessarily fragrant. A fast spreader and prolific bloomer even in it's first year, it will begin to bloom after six weeks.
Unlike, S. nemorosa ‘May Night’, I don’t mind deadheading this salvia, perhaps because of its plum color it does not require as persistent deadheading. Notice the gray-green leaves of ‘Plumosa’, versus the green leaves of ‘May Night’. The stems tend to flop, but the flower stalks continue to grow and flower upright -- very strange.
A Plant Select Plant for 2004, Pink Texas Skullcap has often been listed as a Zone 7 plant, but it is reliably cold hardy in Zone 6 and in protected Zone 5b sights. I’ve grown it in my xeristrip since 2000. Long blooming with no maintenance ever performed. These low growing, mounding skullcaps are excellent for Panhandle xeristrips and rock gardens. Native varieties are S. drummondii, and S. resinosa. The hybrid cultivar, S. x ‘Violet Cloud’, introduced by High Country Gardens, is an excellent violet skullcap as well as the natives.