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.
The Arizona rosewood is classified either as a quite tall shrub or short to mid height tree. One of it's best features is that it is evergreen, with slender glossy green leaves approximately 3 inches long. It puts on small white flowers in summer. One of the few drought tolerant, native, evergreen trees available in the trade. Slow growing.
Broom snakeweed is a small mounded subshrub with yellow greenish thread-like leaves, native throughout the Southwest and western half of the North American continent. In the fall, it becomes covered in small golden yellow flowers. Bees and nectar butterflies are attracted to it in numbers. Usually grows to only a foot tall.
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.
Turpentine shrub is an evergreen shrub native to the southern parts of the Southwest, and only marginally cold hardy on the Caprock. It will survive when in a sheltered location and soil with excellent drainage, along rocky cliffs, outcrops and arroyos. Avoid compact clay soil, or amend clay soil very well for drainage with inorganic amendments. Yellow autumn flowers.
Three leaf sumac is medium height woody shrub native to the Texas Panhandle and throughout the Southwest. Three distinctive cleft and lobed leaves (trifoliate) are medium to dark green. Small greenish yellow flowers in spring are followed by tart red berries in summer, which are used to make a lemonade-like drink. The shrub's flowers have a pleasant fragrance, even though it is called skunkbush by some. Beautiful golden and reddish fall foliage. Cold hardy to Zone 4, yet extremely heat and drought tolerant. Prefers sandy and well drained soils.
An old world Mediterranean plant best known for the acanthus leaf shape used as a basis in classical Greek and Roman designs. The plant itself takes 2 – 3 years growth before flowering. Attractive flowers with purple bracts on tall spikes to 4’. Frost sensitive, will die back in a late spring frost, but will come back. Adds architectural and textural interest.
The old fashioned larkspur is a drought tolerant reseeding annual, previously associated with delphiniums (now in the Ranunculaceae family). I’ve grown it in my alley, in the xeristrip, and its crept into my medium water-use zone. Deadheading keeps millions of tiny seeds from overcoming your garden next year, and also keeps the blooms coming. Larkspur can flower for six weeks. Again, deadheading is important to prevent a massive infestation throughout your landscape.
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.
‘Red Rocks’ is another hybrid cultivar, named for the Denver, Colorado red sandstone area and amphitheater. P. 'Red Rocks' is highly suitable for the average garden, rather than a specialized penstemon bed. Again, do not deadhead unless reblooming has occurred and you desire a tidier appearance. Don’t over water or over amend the soil, but it will thrive companionably with other medium water-use plants.
Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’, though first discovered in Ireland, will thrive very nicely in your transition zone as a border plant along turf, where it’ll receive medium to medium high water. Amend the soil well with organic matter for rich blooms and keep it deadheaded to prolong blooms. Afternoon shade is recommended. A little more trouble than usual, but well worth the softening effect this compact, mounded and cheery plant brings to the border; a Perennial Plant of the Year for 2000.
Grown extensively throughout the southwest, I don’t know why it has taken so long for this plant to become available in the Panhandle, especially since it is cold hardy to Zone 5.
It is a bit slow to become established, and late in coming out in the springtime – have patience and place a marker so it’s not forgotten and weeded up. Note: Early spring-emerging plant may look similar to bindweed. It is best to plant this wild fuchsia in spring, rather than the fall. I noticed better success with quart to gallon size plants.
Desert globemallow is one of those native plants that keeps on giving, asking so little in return and is a worthy addition to any native or xeric garden. Typically, desert globemallow sports pretty pink flowers. though some plants will bloom white, coral or lavender. Whatever color, they are worth the addition to your sunny and dry landscape for their pleasant cheery nature. Similar to appearane to S. coccinea, a coral blooming species.
Arizona rosewood is one of the few native evergreen trees or tall shrubs that are low water-use. Underused in the Texas Panhandle, mostly due to lack of availability. But with searching in Albuquerque or Santa Fe, one should be able to locate a specimen. Faster growing than the Chisos rosewood. Long slender, serrated, glossy green leaves with white flowers in summer.
Two southern native hibiscus suitable for the medium to high water-use garden. Large green leaves are superseeded by very large and showy flowers. H. moscheutos is cold hardy and has some of the largest flowers, up to a foot across in red, rose and white, usually with a red eye. H. coccineus blooms scarlet 3 inch flowers -- not cold hardy but worth trying as a specimen container plant.
It is so refreshing to see the rain lilies bloom after a long hot summer. Whenever they begin to bloom, I know the worst heat is over. Rain lilies are a delightful flower that sends up glossy green, grass-like leaves from its bulb in late spring. In mid to late summer, pure white flowers resembling a crocus open and continue through September, usually after a good summer rainfall. There are quite a few species and varieties (of various colors) of Zephrantes, however, Z. candida is the only rain lily cold hardy in Amarillo. I've grown it successfully since 2008.
Cliff fendlerbush is another Texas and Southwest native shrub too little used in the xeric landscape. Springtime lifts the cliff fendlerbush above the ordinary into prominence in the landscape. It is said the ravines and arroyos look dotted with snow from a distance, so profuse are the fragrant, creamy white, sometimes with a pink tinge, four petaled flowers in May and June. It's natural element is rocky arroyos (rupicola=rock dweller), cliff ledges and limestone soils with good drainage that average 12-18 inches of moisture with hot sunny days.
Snowberry is a woody plant that spreads from the roots, sending up arching branches every couple of inches to about 3-4 feet high. The small green leaves are pleasant as are the white spring flowers, followed by the remarkable pearly white berries. During the summer, I inspect the snowberry bush weekly for signs of the berries. They never remain long on the bush, as the birds quickly devour them (they're said to be toxic to humans). Snowberries thrive in part shade and medium to low/medium watering. they easily propagate by digging out and transplanting the roots.
Small green gray evergreen leaves forms mounded, low growing xeric plant with small white flowers in late spring. Does not spread vigorously. Easily propagated by root cuttings. An alpine from the Balkans region.
Delicate fern like foliage for your shaded woodland areas. Will grow in a low water-use zone, however, the foliage will disappear in summer. Delicate tubular, yellow. White and blue varieties have been available locally. An excellent choice for underplanting trees, especially for a medium water-use zone. Will reseed.
Rose of Sharon, or Althea, is another reliable old-fashioned garden plant well suited for the Texas Panhandle. My favorite cultivar is Diana because of the brilliant, pure white 4-5” flowers and somewhat glossy green leaves. Diana is also one of the smaller varieties up to about 6 - 8 feet, while others can reach 10’ tall. Similar to most altheas, 'Diana' is a prolific bloomer.
A long-lived evergreen penstemon for the average bed or border. Small orange red tubular flowers attract hummingbirds, as do most red tubular flowers. Low growing and longer flowering than most, especially the more mature the specimen.
After several years, the pine needle like foliage can resemble a miniature bonsai. Pineleaf penstemon is also a must-have for the low water-use bed or border or rock garden because of its evergreen foliage and longer blooming nature. In late summer, snip off the dried, spent flower heads; some re-blooming may occur.
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.
Not our old fashioned garden zinnia. Zinnia grandiflora is the native zinnia for most of the Midwest, West and Southwestern parts of the United States. So widespread a wildflower, each region has named it theirs: plains zinnia, prairie zinnia, desert zinnia and Rocky Mountain zinnia. A terrific low growing and spreading groundcover for poor soils needing no supplement irrigation. Rugged! A survivor without being a pest!
Desert marigolds are one of the prettiest desert flowers. The plant forms a neat compact rosette of finely cut silvery green leaves from which stems emerge topped with a bright golden daisy like flower. It is considered either an annual or short lived perennial. Scatter seeds from the spent plant to insure its return the next season. Over watering will doom this beautiful plant. Desert marigold can be seen blooming in the desert in winter and spring. In my garden, it's blooms begin in May and will continue sporadically into fall. Not awfully reliable in cold hardiness here.
Agastaches are some of the Southwest's showiest natives and one of our native perennials where must breeding and hybridization is being done. Native to slightly higher elevations that 3600 ft., it requires either afternoon shade or medium water-use. It has not been reliable in coming back for me, but it has for others. Well drained soil is a must. Nonetheless, it is easy to be seduced by its masses of blooms and alluring fragrances. Hummingbirds certainly are entranced.