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.
A terrific variety for the prairie garden, though requiring prairie conditions -- good soil with good drainage and more frequent watering than our native, E. angustifolia. Coneflowers are all the rage right now with many new introductions every year, ranging from white, yellow, orange to the popular purple. Most of these should be located in your medium to high water-use area. The richer the soil and with weekly watering (high), you'll enjoy grander blooms. A good border plant in the transition area between turf and medium water-use. E.
Linum lewisii, the southwestern and western native perennial wildflower variety of flax was named after Meriwether Lewis, who was first to describe it during the Lewis and Clark Expedition. On July 18th, 1805, near the Great Falls of the Missouri Lewis recorded: "I have observed for several days a species of the flax growing in the river bottoms the leaf stem and pericarp of which resembles the common flax cultivated in the U'States. The stem rises to the hight of about 2 1/2 or 3 feet high; as many as 8 or ten of which proceeds from the same root.
Mock orange is one of those versatile old garden shrubs you can place almost anywhere; it will even flower in deep shade. Fragrant single pure white flowers in spring that may reoccur in the fall with a much lesser show. Drought tolerant once established. The versatility and fragrance must certainly be the reasons gardeners choose mock orange, it certainly isn’t for its irregular shape. I’m afraid I haven’t shown it much respect, allowing its mostly shady corner to be littered with gardener’s menagerie of plastic pots and unused brick-o-brack.
The Crassulaceae family of plants fascinates me, and the sedums are one of its larger genera. I first saw ‘Frosty Morn” featured on a gardening program from Iowa, so I wondered whether it’d be drought tolerant. Shortly afterwards, I found it at our local nursery and planted in my xeristrip. It has never faltered. The only disfiguring occurrence is a little nipping by grasshoppers during early summer, which has never seemed to harm it, or other large leafed sedums.
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.
Small but tough is Perky Sue. Woody base with thin short green leaves from which many stems shoot up to display many yellow daisy like flowers from April into fall. Many people know this plant by the genus name Hymenoxys, but has been changed to Tetraneuris in the last decade. There are a few relatives that look quite similar and are all equally valuable in the garden: T. acaulis and T. odorata.
An American native requiring medium to high water, it is a prolific grower, an old fashion pass-along plant. Perfect for a mixed border or at the edge of the vegetable garden to attract bees. The variety shown is most likely 'Violet Queen', although I'm unsure. However, it is not the common scarlet bee balm or red bergamot, that also grows well here. Blooms throught the summer and is an attractive addition.
Tansy aster is an annual native to the Southwest and throughout the Plains even into Canada. Fernlike, or tansy-like (tannacetifolia) light green foliage with beautiful aster-like lavender flowers with yellow disks about 1 1/2 to 2 inches across. Blooms from late spring through fall. A once a month watering will keep the blooms coming throughout the summer. It will keep its compact shape in lean, poor soil but will become much larger in well amended soil. Minimal amending is recommended. Tansy aster is another example of our natives plants giving so much, asking so little in return.
Lindheimers muhly grass is native to the Edwards Plateau of Texas. It is cold hardy and heat tolerant, a tall, warm season bunch grass. It forms a good size ornamental specimen with upright blue green or blue gray blades and tall showy, almost spike like inflorescences in late summer. Not as large as pampas grass, it is a better native alternative. There are two muhly grasses native to the Southwest, Muhlenbergia asperifolia, scratchgrass, and M.
Winterfat, formerly Ceratoides lanata, is a drought and heat tolerant that normally is found in poor, alkaline soils throughout the Southwest in grasslands and scrublands. Winterfat is a low rounded woody shrub with pale blue green to gray leaves. The distinctive characteristic is the long wooly seed stalk it puts up in the summer. Towards winter, the stalk appears to be covered with wool.
Prairie verbena is one of my favorite plants, it is one of the first to bloom in the spring and one of the last to be affected by freezes in the fall. Small in stature, but it has my respect for giving so much with so little given (from me) in return. It's short lived, maybe just one year or three. Green, finely cut hairy leaves, with several branched stems that put on clusters of tiny lavender, purple, violet or pink flowers. Blooms from spring to fall. Readily reseeds, not invasively so. Its volunteer seedlings are easy to dig up and transplant.
Native herbaceous perennial to the central and eastern U.S.; will grow in a variety of soils, including poor soils. False blue indigo did not flower the first year. Flowering improves as the plant matures. The foliage may go dormant and disappear towards the end of summer. Baptisias belong to the pea family (Fabaceae), a legume. Flowers are similar to a lupine. Other species colors are white (B. alba) yellow (B. sphaerocarpa), and other variations and cultivars, including 'Chocolate Chip', which features a light reddish brown flower, similar to milk chocolate.
A beautiful white variety of the purple coneflower. This picture doesn't do the flower justice.
Similar to the purple coneflower, this white variety is really a high water-use plant that appreciates afternoon shade. Deadhead to prolong the bloom period, but keep end of season blooms on for fall and winter interest.
The only draw back to this pretty, silver-edged groundcover is its flowers! If only it didn’t, it would be a perfect no maintenance, no water groundcover for hot, sunny locations. You can see the tiny ball shaped flower heads in the picture, which look rather indistinct. However, after flowering, they turn an ugly shade of brown that mar the beautiful leaves unless you shear them off. Though a creeping groundcover, silver-edged horehound is not invasive like the common horehound, M. vulgare.
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".
Sedum, ‘Autumn Joy’ is one of those foolproof additions to your autumn garden, so aptly named; for the joy it brings to the autumn garden. Easily propagated by stem cuttings or root division. As with most sedums, afternoon shade helps. Grasshoppers have nibbled at its leaves in early summer without stunting the plant’s flowering ability.
Lower growing Southwestern native shrub, both cold and heat tolerant. Finely cut greenish silver leaves. Flower stalks with insignificant flowers. Grows best in soils with good drainage. Will grow in heavy clay soil if grown among grasses.
Warm season native clumping ornamental grass that is well suited to the transition zone between turf and flower bed. Medium to blueish green thin grass blades form a low to medium size clump, medium water-use zone. In late September, it sends plumes upward that give the appearance of a deep pink haze or mist. There are several new selections of Gulf Coast muhly, thankfully, to choose from. Be sure to pay attention to the cold hardiness for your area and you won't be disappointed.
One of North America's favorite annuals. There is much variety in size and colors of flowers, ranging from yellow, golden, orange, red/orange, red and mahogany. The plants themselves can vary from 3-4 feet to 8 feet or more. Seeds sown in springtime will be insure blooms in late summer or fall. Great for cut flowers.
Bigelow's tansyaster is easy to confuse with Tahoka daisy but is not as showy. Bigelow's aster is a fall blooming biennial, with far fewer purple rays and a smaller, yellow brown center disk. It populates plains in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. In the fall, whole fields will wear a purple haze due to this tansyaster.
Switchgrass is one of the best native ornamental grasses of our tall prairies. Switchgrass forms upright bunches of wide 1/2 inch green blades, with open pale purple inflorescence arising another 2 feet in late summer to fall. Switchgrass will thrive with every other week supplemental irrigation. There are many varieties of switchgrass, 'Prairie Sky' is the most drought tolerant (low, xeric) with blue blades. Other fine selections are 'Heavy Metal' with metallic lavender blue foliage turning reddish towards fall, and 'Shenandoah' with leaf blades tipped in red.
Mahonia repans is one of my favorite plants with four seasons of interest. Low growing and spreading evergreen shrub is native throughout the Rocky Mountains. Bright yellow berries in spring are followed by black berries in summer and reddish winter foliage. The leaves are thick, glossy and holly shaped. Creeping Oregon grape holly prefers amended, humusy soil that replicates its native habitat as an understory plant in woodlands, but is low water-use once established. It will spread to cover an area, but not invasive. Very attractive!
Grayleaf cotoneaster is a wonderful low growing shrub for the xeric garden. Evergreen or semi-evergreen in colder winters, it provides good winter interest, along with the other seasons. Small oval shaped silver/gray leaves cover the many arching branches. Tiny white flowers appear in late spring followed by red berries in late fall and winter. Low water use once established.
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.
First class native wildflower for your low water-use location whether you live in the city or country. No soil amending is even needed for Engelman's daisy, but you might want to improve the drainage if you soil is compact, or amend with some organic matter for caliche soil. Toowell amended soil will cause E. pinnatifida to grow too tall and gangly. If this happens, cut down nearly to the ground at the end of June, or mid July. It will grow back and begin flowering within 3 - 4 weeks. Will reseed some.