Able to withstand exposure to roughly 50% sunlight and 50% shade.
Yuccas for Texas High Plains Landscapes
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.
New Mexican privet can be viewed either as a tall shrub or smaller tree. New Mexican privet will flower (tiny yellow) before leafing out with small oval glossy green leaves to be followed with black berries in the fall. Heat and drought tolerant will live in most soils and water-use areas. Attractive taller plant for the home landscape, similar to the yaupon holly in form.
Centranthus ruber is a versatile plant, able to be used almost anywhere in the landscape except full shade. Long blooming except during the heat of the summer. Deadhead after the spring bloom for better appearances. Reseeds some, but not a problem. Quite drought tolerant, it will still do nicely in medium and high water use areas, except for wet, soggy clay. It appreciates good drainage and moderate amending but will do well in poor soil. Centranthus ruber 'Alba' is a pleasant white blooming variety. Readily available at local nurseries.
Grown in the South for decades, most people think of crape myrtle as a native American plant; it is however native to China and Japan. Small tree or large shrub that is cold hardy to Zone 7. I’ve grown the same crape myrtles for over 20 years, but they’re planted close (too close!) to my bricked house on both the northeast and northwest corners. They’ve been stem hardy, not just root hardy, and have grown up to about 10-12’. In most cases, crape myrtle will not grow into tree form in the Panhandle, but there are mature, tree size crape myrtles in Amarillo.
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.
Golden current makes an attractive taller shrub at the edge of a lawn or vegetable garden, positioned to catch extra irrigation water. For three stunning weeks in spring it will be covered with tiny yellow flowers. I planted two in 2008, and have yet to notice the tasty berries, red currents, for which they are known. Quite cold hardy, if placed in full sun, it'll need twice a month watering to survive, or in half or more shade, once a month watering is sufficient. Multi stem shrub with small, rounded leaves with cut edges makes an attractive barrier or hedge plant.
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.
A good drought tolerant ground cover for use in a border, in a xeristrip or a rock garden. Evergreen grayish green leaves with fine hairs (tomentose). Will grow too tall and gangling in too rich and moist a soil. Some areas of the country have noted Cerastium tomentosum to be invasive, but I have not seen those tendencies here. A good substitute for the annual alyssium. Cerastium tomentosum var. columnae is a commonly available variety.
Sweet pea is another wonderful old fashioned, fragrant annual climber. That is, the original L. odoratus was fragrant; many varieties today have had the fragrance bred out of them to achieve more and bigger blooms and different colors. Sweet pea is versatile and will grow in a variety of water zones and soil types. I have seen it growing alone for 2 years at an abandoned home, alongside lantana. Some gardeners just toss out the seeds in fall or spring and wait to be surprised.
Native to a large part of North America, golden rod is a pleasant addition to your native garden, and contrary to popular myth, does not cause allergies; the pollen is too heavy to be wind born. But choose a variety of Solidago that does not have invasive rhizamatous roots for lower maintenance.
Attracts bees and butterflies.
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.
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!
Elephand ears are plants grown from corms (called bulbs, but not true bulbs), with large leaves on upright stems. Colocasia leaves point downward (Alocasia leaves point upward). Colocasia gigantum and C. esculenta are two species most often used. These plants are grown primarily for their foliage and prominant veining, rather than flowers. The flowers are typical aroid type with a white to yellow or light green spathe, and may not even flower in shorter growing seasons.
Outstanding shrubby perennial fragrant herb for the garden! Very good soil drainage is the key to growing lavender, it does not like moist, compacted clay soil. Lavender appreciates supplemental irrigation every 2-4 weeks, if not provided naturally. Trim back in late winter or early spring by not more than a third, or just trim down last years flower stems. Triming too much off the plant will kill it.
Although there is question in my mind whether pavonia is a native in Texas, it’s been naturalized for a long time and is found growing in the Edwards Plateau and south Texas. Pavonia has been cold hardy for me for at least 5 – 6 years. Readily reseeds to the point of being a nuisance, but this is a minor annoyance.
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.
Oregon grape holly is an evergreen holly-like shrub native to the Pacific Northwest Rockies down into California. Upright, it is slow growing but can reach a height of 8 feet. Best when grown in shade, especially out of afternoon sun. Prefers a more humusy soil but will only required once a month watering when established, however, can also be placed in medium and high water-use areas. Bright yellow flowers in spring, followed by dark blue berries in summer. The thick, glossy, holly-like leaves have spines at the points. Leaves turn from green to red in winter.
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.
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.
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.
The vitex, or chaste tree is a small tree or a very large shrub, depending on water and climate, and is cold hardy to the Texas Panhandle. Low water-use once established, it can grow well in higher water zones. It is called the summer lilac because of the similarities of its flowers to the lilac shrub. Vitex varieties can be found in blue, lavender, and pink fragrant flowers. The leaves are similar to those of the marijuana plant. Vitex will sucker, especially when given ample water. It is native to southern Europe and Western Asia.
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.
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.