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.
Desert never equates with drab. The flowers on Desert Bird of Paradise are simply stunning! Though classified as a Zone 7 plant, I’ve grown Desert Bird of Paradise for 3-4 years near a south facing wall and have seen several others around Amarillo, without it dying back it to roots. However, if it does, just prune out the dead wood. Eye catching flowers bloom continually from June into fall and attract hummingbirds. Finely divided green leaves. It is said to survive on 8” of rainfall, but monthly soakings enhance it. C. mexicana, Mexican Bird of Paradise and C.
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.
Salvia argentea is a first class drought tolerant biennial to add texture to your xeristrip. Light gray green tomentose (hairy) foliage adds contrast against accent rocks. This biennial will flower the second year, but I could do without the sticky, and somewhat unsightly stalk whose white flowers open in succession and quickly turn brown. Cutting off the stalks only encourages the plant to send up more sticky stalks. The leaves of the plant may appear to mimic Lamb’s Ears, however, they are not tough and resilient, tears easily, and are shredded by hail.
Nandina is one of a few single species genera, a member of the barberry family (Berberidaceae). Though one species, several cultivars are available to add texture and interest to our low maintenance, low water-use landscape in either sun or shade. I plant mine in full shade, as there are few shrubs that will flower there. I personally favor protecting Nandina with afternoon shade, if planted in a sunny location.
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.
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 November and 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.
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.
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.
Low growing, drought tolerant evergreen groundcover that becomes covered in tiny sky blue flowers in early spring for about 6 weeks, then sporadically throughout the year. I’ve seen a few twinkling blue blooms in every month of the year. The tiny leaves of V. pectinata are gray-green and tomentose. Allow plenty of room for the spread of this fabulous groundcover; it’ll just keep going and going and going. And you won’t want it to stop.
If you find yourself in Palo Duro Canyon at the end of April or beginning of May, the purple haze dotting the cliffsides is feather dalea. Sporadic blooms will open after showers throughout summer, though never as profuse as in springtime. With monthly irrigation in a xeric garden, feather dalea adds color and texture with it's twiggy, but sturdy, appearance. Small purple flowers combined with white plumes carries the haze impression from a distance.
Another tough and pretty wildflower that populates a wide area from the plains of Oklahoma down to the Chihuahua Desert and over to Colorado and Utah. Leaves are lower near the base of the plant from which stems emerge and bloom in late spring to early summer. Yellow rays with a red to brownish center.
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.
Fame flower, flame flower, or rock pink, is a Midwestern native succulent. Ideally suited to western rock gardens, short fleshy narrow leaves emerge in late spring, followed by wiry stems where tiny rose/pink flowers open up each afternoon. In fall, the top foliage dies off and the plant heads underground for the winter. Because of it's unusual nature, it can be tucked in anywhere at the front of a border, just don't forget where you've planted it when doing spring cleanup. Reseeds slightly.
Phemeranthus calycinum was formerly known as Talinum calycinum.
Prairie dropseed is smaller than both alkali or giant sacaton, more fitting for the city garden. A warm season bunch grass, prairie dropseed is a most attractive low or medium water-use grass with graceful green foliage. The seed heads emerge in late summer into fall with light pink seeds, that is said to naturalize some, but not invasively. A slow grower. Foliage turns a pleasing golden orange in the fall. Native throughout the Great Plains, including Texas. Tolerates most soil conditions.
Green santolina is an evergreen shrub native to the Mediterranean region. Its grass-green color makes it a welcome addition to any landscape. Medium and low water use, cold hardy, sun and heat tolerant, it prefers poorer soil. Aromatic green leaves that resemble those of the cypress. Yellow button flowers in summer.
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.