Herbaceous

A herbaceous plant is a plant that has leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season to the soil level.

Common Name: Snow in Summer

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.

Common Name: Red pincushion flower

Perennial with lyre shaped leaves, similar in appearance to scabiosa, native to central Europe. In fact, it's synonym is Scabiosa rumelica. Deep purple red pincushion-like flowers. Knautia macedonica may suffer from our alkaline soil if not well amended with compost and well drained. Will reseed some. Has a pleasant wild look. Popular with nectar feeding insects. Deadheading doesn’t seem to be necessary.

Common Name: Obediant Plant. False Dragonshead.

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".

Common Name: Lady in black calico aster

Lady in Black aster is an improved selection over the Midwestern native, Aster lateriflorus (now Symphyotrichum lateriflorus). Dark canes with musty purple leaves provide a striking contrast in the flower beds and borders that become covered with tiny white aster flowers with pink centers. Truly stunning bee and butterfly magnet for about 3 weeks in autumn.

Common Name: Prairie Poppy Mallow

Similar in form to Callirhoe involucrata, Callirhoe alcaeoides 'Logan Calhoun' grows natively from the Midwest to southern plains. While Callirhoe alcaeoides can be pink, to pale pink and pale lilac, 'Logan Calhoun' is pure white. Spreads over an area similar to wine cups, the foliage and flowers are finer. I've found it to be drought tolerant; water monthly to insure continued blooms. Blooms will rest during the heat of the summer and continue following rains or cooler weather.

Common Name: Gooseberryleaf globemallow, Current leaf globemallow

Gooseberryleaf globemallow is very close in appearance to scarlet globemallow, Sphaeralcea coccinea, but much taller, up over 2 feet. The leaves are silver green and hairy, resembling the leaves of the current shrubs in shape, so named from the family name of currents and gooseberries, Grossulariaceae. Flowers are orange in color and bloom from May and June, sometimes later in the summer. Native to hot, dry areas semi-arid regions throughout the Southwest and the Great Basin Desert. Prefers good to sharp drainage.

Common Name: Sweet Autumn Clematis

Although usually sold as Clemantis paniculata, it could be C. terniflora. Sweetly fragrant, low water-use vigorous growing vine for great late summer display. Creamy white flowers form silvery seed heads.  Cut back in spring as it blooms on new growth.

Common Name: Sweet pea

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.

Common Name: Prairie Sun Black-eyed Susan

Rudbeckia is advertised as heat and drought tolerant, but I have not found it so. I’ve found it to require at least weekly watering during the heat of the summer. A shortlived, southern native perennial, it likes the humidity and rain from southern climes. These very large and stunning composites may be worth your effort, just place within the correct hydrozone.

Common Name: Calamint

Calamint, a member of the mint family, sparkles with white/pale lavender flowers in late summer into fall. Solid green foliage emits a pleasing mint fragrance. Attracts bees. Sometimes referred to as lesser calamint. Calamintha nepeta spp nepeta covers itself with light blue flowers.

Common Name: Virgins Bower

Perennial vine native to the Southwest. Late summer to fall bloom with slender, thin whitish sepals, followed by attractive plumes that are feathery seed clusters. The vine is valued for it's delicate beauty of leaf, flower and plume and drought tolerance. Clematis drummondii is a larval host and/or nectar source for the fatal metalmark butterfly.

Common Name: Prince's Plume, Desert or golden Plume, Sentinel of the Plains

Elegant and stately desert perennial. Soft light blue green leaves. Stalks can tower above desert shrubs to 5-6 feet, but usually 2-4 feet, with racemes of yellow flowers similar to cleome or spider plant flowers in springtime. Requires excellent drainage and lean soils. Thrives on selenium rich soils. Native to canyonlands in SW U.S.

Common Name: Elephant Ears, Taro

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. 

Common Name: Blackfoot Daisy

Native wildflower that likes it lean and mean. Over watering and well amended soil will usually cause Blackfoot daisy to die a premature death, even for a short lived perennial, such as it is. It would be an ideal border plant, similar to alyssum, if not for its tendency to move about where it will (that is, die where you plant it and seed somewhere else). Still, it’s worth a try. Our Panhandle xeric gardens should never be without Blackfoot Daisy. In fact, once you plant Blackfoot daisy and let it seed, you should never be without it (and that’s a good thing).

Common Name: Silver Sage

Salvia argentea is a first class drought tolerant biennial to add texture to your xeristrip. Light gray green tomentose (hairy) foliage adds contrast against accent rocks. This biennial will flower the second year, but I could do without the sticky, and somewhat unsightly stalk whose white flowers open in succession and quickly turn brown. Cutting off the stalks only encourages the plant to send up more sticky stalks. The leaves of the plant may appear to mimic Lamb’s Ears, however, they are not tough and resilient, tears easily, and are shredded by hail.

Common Name: Victoria Blue Salvia, Mealycup sage

Victoria blue salvia is usually not cold hardy in the Texas Panhandle, but every once in awhile, one will winter over. But that shouldn't stop you from replanting this lovely, summer long blooming native to regions further south, classified by some to be one of the top ten flowers for Texas gardens. Upright and dense flower stalks in blue, white (Alba) and deep blue or violet. Salvia farinacea continues to be hybridized to create new introductions. Often referred to as mealycup sage, its stately appearance deserves the nobler moniker, Victoria Blue.

Common Name: Plains coreopsis, Painted Daisy, Tickseed, Calliopsis

Native to the plains, Coreopsis tinctoria, has naturalized throughout most of the U.S., especially in disturbed soil. Prefers moist sandy soil. An annual, it may last more than one year. Very showy flower with yellow outer rays, with a maroon blotch towards the center ray. Sow seeds in early spring. Heat tolerant, once a month watering is recommended for well drained soil.

Common Name: Ironweed

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.

Common Name: Columbine

Many Aquilegia’s are native to the U.S. Golden columbine, Aquilegia chrysantha is a Texas and southwest native, has yellow flowers and can take more sun than some varieties. McKana's Giant is the hybrid columbine most often sold. Large beautiful bi-colored flowers dazzle in woodland and shady area. Rocky Mountain columbine, Aquelegia caerulea; and wild columbine, A. canadensis, are other common columbines. Rocky Mountain columbine is the state flower of Colorado.

Common Name: Larkspur

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.

Common Name: Coral bells, Alum root

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.

Common Name: Black and Blue Sage, Anise scented sage

There are several varieties of Salvia guaranitica that range in shades of blue from light to dark. As with most of the tube-shaped salvia flowers, S. guaranitica is a hummingbird magnet.

Native to South America, S. guaranitica is not zoned cold hardy for the Texas Panhandle, but it has wintered over in protected Amarillo gardens in many locations for many years. It has wintered over for me at least 5 years, unprotected. Deadheading is not required.

Common Name: Sundrops

The Calylophus genus is one of the best Southwest native plants for Panhandle gardens. Heat and drought tolerant, long blooming with little to no care, what garden would be without it? Sunny yellow 4 petaled sundrop flowers bloom in an explosion in spring, and respectably during the remaining growing season, especially when given a once a month inch of water during drought conditions. Each individual flower lasts only a day, tight compact mounds sport the orange spent blooms as well as the new bright yellow flower.

Common Name: Illinois Bundleflower

Illinois bundleflower should be grown for its unusual characteristics of seedpods and leaves, if nothing else. A member of the legume or bean family, the seed pods turn dark brown, leathery and twisted in appearance and rattle in the wind in late fall. The compound, alternate, pinnate leaves fold when touched or when exposed to strong sunlight. Small white flowers in summer. Attracts butterflies, birds love its seeds. The plant can grow to be quite large if in high water-use areas.

Common Name: White Flowering Zinnia, Desert Zinnia

White flowering zinnia is native to the Southwest and Northern Mexico. A low mounding plant, it becomes completely covered with small white flowers with a central yellow disk, similar to our native prairie zinnia, Zinnia grandiflora. Blooms from June through fall. Desert zinnia is toxic if ingested by humans.

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