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.
Sumacs are known for brillian fall foliage. Ground cover woody shrub 24-30" tall with dark shiny green leaves that turn a thrilling orange-red in the fall. Small yellow flowers at springtime.
Big Bend silverleaf is the most cold hardy of the Leucophyllums and has wintered over in Amarillo, Zone 7, for 5 years so far. Possibly cold hardy to Zone 6. It is hard to beat a more attractive summer blooming shrub for small xeric spaces. After summer rainfalls, Big Bend silverleaf, native to the Big Bend National Park area, becomes covered in silver blue flowers that twinkle like jewels among its silvery gray leaves. Hard to find, it's worth searching for.
Lantana urticoides (horrida) is a native perennial, and cold hardy for most of the state, except for areas in the Texas Panhandle. In the Panhandle, several species of Lantana are sold as summer bedding plants. Blooms prolifically summer and fall. Colors normally available are red, red and yellow, yellow, white and purple or mauve. In rare cases they may winter over. In areas south, lantana will grow into a shrub. The blue/black fruit clusters are poisonous.
Blue grama grass is a short, clumping warm season grass with thin blue green blades that is native throughout the Great Plains and Southwest. Able to grow in poor, dry soils, blue grama grass needs only about 12 inches of annual precipitation to survive. If seeded thick enough and with moderate irrigation, blue grama will form turf. Once establish, reduce to monthly supplemental irrigation, and mow not more frequently than monthly to a height of 4 inches. One advantage of blue grama over buffalograss is the speed of germination; it will germinate in 5-7 days.
Yaupon holly is a tall shrub or a small tree growing typically to 8-12 feet in the Texas Panhandle. Cold hardy to Zone 7 (still best to plant in a protected location), it prefers partial shade, especially afternoon shade. Low (once established) to high water use. Small leathery, glossy, evergreen, dark green leaves (to 1.5” long) have toothed margins on dense branching. Insignificant greenish white flowers in springtime followed by red berries in the fall. Female plants require a male plant to pollinate and bear fruit (dioecious). Attractive tall, traditional looking shrub.
Gayfeather is one of the High Plains jewels of autumn, sending up grasslike leaves or stalks that bloom gloriously in September and October to fuzzy purple spikes. At maturity, one plant can grow a dozen or more, size and number depending on rainfall amounts. Drier years, the stalks are few and short, but with monthly or twice a month watering, the plant displays much more vitality. The purple flowers contrast nicely with the many yellow flowers that bloom on the plains. Liatris punctata is the most drought tolerant of the genus.
Old fashion garden and English cottage garden herbaceous perennial that works well in the Southwest Cottage Garden. Hollyhocks are considered to be either a biennial or perennial. They produce copious seed but are not considered invasive or troublesome. Plant seed in the fall, or early spring. Avoid watering the foliage if irrigating, a drip system works better that above ground sprinklers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Native woody shrub to Texas, New Mexico and west to California from 3000 to 8000 feet in elevation. It is best to plant in soil with only inorganic amendments. It becomes more floppy and flowers less when fed and watered well. This is a case of less yielding more.
Reseeds some. I've never seen this as a problem. Locate in a sunny area with full exposure to the sun for best growth and backlighting. If planted against a wall or fence it will lean towards the sun and looked tipped over.
Rarely does a shrub feature as much versatility as the blue mist spirea. It will grow and flower in sun or shade, low water-use or high. This Caryopteris, a hybrid itself, normally blooms in a pleasant light blue, but other selections have deeper blues hues. Summer blooming into fall. And as unlikely at it seems for hybrid to set viable seed, blue mist spirea reproduces itself pleasantly, never invasively. Indeed, any little volunteers are welcome.
Agaves are striking and architectural Southwest native plants and are included in a group of plants I term Southwest evergreens. They are unusual in that at maturity, they only flower once, and then die. for this reason, some classify them as multiannual, rather than perennial. However, as they common name suggests, it takes many years before they flower. Leaves of the Agave are arranged in a spiral beginning from a near invisible stem, forming a rosette.Agaves vary in size from 4-6 inches to larger than man-size.
Yellow honeysuckle is a much better choice, along with Loncera sempervivens, than the traditional and invasive Japanese honeysuckle usually sold. Fragrant and yellow blooming, a good climber and groundcover. Average garden soils with low and medium water-use. Can be low water-use once established.
Buffalograss is North America's only native turfgrass, grows well in clay soils. A warm season grass that spreads by stolons, it is our best selection for low water-use lawns. It will survive very nicely on 15-20 inches of annual precipitation. For green turf summer long, a once a month watering is all that is needed. The common species is short to 4-8 inches, light gray/green to blue/green and goes dormant in fall, greening up again in May. Many newer varieties are being developed for wider blades and deeper green colors, such as Legacy® and Turffalo®.
Junipers are native to much of the U.S. and come in many sizes and shapes. Juniperus horizontalis is the low growing and spreading juniper, used mainly as an evergreen groundcover. There are many varieties available, one or more to suit every purpose and location. Colors and heights vary from the common dark green evergreen to blue green, blue and even lime or chartruese. Their hallmark is their fine texture, many of the newer varieties have a pleasant soft touch. Water use can vary as well, but typically, once established many will thrive on once a month deep watering.
Showy evening primrose is a plains states native, including the Texas Panhandle. Showy evening primrose blooms whitish pink in late spring, with each flower lasting a single day, opening in the morning and closing later in the day. The leaves are green narrow and lance-like and emerge from spreading rhizomes. The plant spreads prolifically by rhizomes and seeds, especially in amended and well watered soil. It is not well mannered in a mixed bed or border, I consider it invasive for the garden.
A native to Texas, flame acanthus loves the heat and full sun! A hummingbird and butterfly plant. Does well in poor soil. May only be cold hardy to Zone 7, however, it has come back for several years in the Panhandle. Grows rapidly and will flower the first year, if you must replant, this is still a good choice for mid to late summer and autumn flowers. Re-seeds some, transplant them early as their roots grow deep.There is another variety with light pumpkin colored flowers, but this one does not bloom as prolificly.
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.
Echinacea angustifolia is the herbal echinacea. Native throughout most of the Midwest, and the Texas Panhandle. Very drought tolerant. It can be seen growing along roadsides and in nature generally. A good cut flower. The common name Black Samson refers to its roots. Not as showy as E. purpurea and newer introductions.
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".
Wagons Ho! Rugged, ragged and windblown -- a true picture of the western and southwestern landscape. If you have a skeleton of a steer's head, now is the time to use it, along with that wagon wheel. Sometimes referred to as the western sage.
Big sagebrush is a coarse, many-branched, aromatic, pale-grey shrub with yellow flowers and light silvery-grey foliage. It flowers in late summer to early fall. The leaves are wedge-shaped with three lobes.
If I had to pick my favorite plant, this is it. Long blooming and drought tolerant with only minimal maintenance of late winter cutting back, and maybe a bloom pick-me-up deadheading at mid summer. It will also re seed some so you’ll have more of them the next year. It’s fragrance is light and pleasantly of sage. Salvia greggiis are native to Texas in the Kerrville area. It is my favorite, but not the absolutely perfect plant. The stems are quite brittle and very easily break or snap off, even when you’re carefully weeding around it.
Summer flowering low water-use native tree, several varieties to choose from. Willow like green leaves. Cold hardy reliably in Zone 7, will winter over most years in Zone 6. The variety pictured in the close-up flower photo is "Lucrecia Hamilton", the variety in the third photo is 'Art's Seedless'. During early autumn snows, be quick to shake snow off the branches to avoid breakage.