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.
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.
Not all succulents are cacti, nearly all cacti are succulents (a few exceptions). Nearly all cactus species are native to the Americas, providing a prickly evergreen presence. There are many cactus that are cold hardy for the Texas Panhandle. There might be one for your garden.
Another American native vine, evergreen in more southern climates than ours, but cold hardy here. Fragrant and attractive coral flowers in spring and early summer. Attracts birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. Pleasant glossy green leaves. Not invasive. Medium water-use.
Sand lovegrass is a warm season bunch grass typically found in sandy soils east of the Rockies over a wide range of the U.S. The grass clumps themselves are usually 12-18" tall with the plumes rising to 3-4 feet. Will grow in clay and poorer soils. Very pleasing wispy, arching habit with a soft sway and rustle in the wind. Can grow in partial shade. Seed heads are somewhat purple, fine textured. Will reseed. Low or no water-use.
One-seed juniper is the juniper found in the dry hills and mesas throughout our area and the Southwest in elevations from 3500 to 8000'. Slow growing on top, it's tap root grows quickly and deeply, making them very difficult to transplant. It's habit is shrubby with several stems and branches growing low to the ground, making it a good habitat plant. Extremely drought, heat and cold tolerant.
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.
Artemisia versicolor 'Sea Foam' is mostly grown for its gray foliage. To keep it's desired compact shape, cut off flower stalks after blooming, which is its only maintenance. Soft, rubber-like feel to its short, clustered, needle-like appearance on short 1 inch wide columns. It gives the impression of a coral bed in your rock garden. Not invasive. 2004 Plant Select Plant.
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.
I love ornamental grasses and this grass tops my list. Blueish green evergreen leaves. A cool season clump forming, medium height grass. Treat it as medium water-use for the first year or two. Blue avena grass is not particular about soil, just as long as it’s well drained. After 2-3 years, blue avena grass will put out light tan oat-like plumes. This grass performs better in afternoon shade.
This variety of cinquefoil has grown in my xeristrip for six years and flowers happily from late spring into fall, with moderate flowering during the heat of the summer. Will put on a new show of flowers after summer rain. It maintains a compact shape without pruning or any maintenance.
There are many other varieties of this wonderful North American native that grows throughout the Rocky Mountains. Other varieties require moderate watering. This variety was purchased from High Country Gardens; I have not seen this truly drought tolerant variety again.
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.
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.