Average Garden Soil

Native Texas Panhandle soils amended with between 2-4 inches compost or other organic and/or amendments.

Common Name: Red Canna

A great plant for those people who must have their foliage fix. Despite their large foliage, cannas will do quite well in a medium water-use area with well amended soil.There are dwarf varieties and others that will reach 7 feet. Leaves shred easily by hail, but will recover after several weeks. Cannas sprout from thick rhizomes. Although subtropical, cannas easily winter over in the Texas Panhandle and spread to form a thick root mass.

Common Name: Johnson's Blue Hardy Geranium, Blue Cranesbill

It's hard to pass up Johnson's blue geranium with the deep blue flower and interesting foliage. A hybrid cultivar, the most blue hardy geranium with delicate, finely cut leaves. Plant in your woodland border, medium water use. For a long time this was the most well know hardy geranium, or cranesbill, as this genus is commonly known.

When the name geranium is spoken most of the time, people are referring to the genus, Pelargonium, the red flowering perennial that is used extensively throughout the world. the common Pelargonium is only cold hardy to 28°.

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: 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: Thyme

Thyme is known more for its use as an herb, but also makes an attractive and aromatic groundcover. Sometimes referred to as Thymus pseudolanuginosus, Thymus lanuginosus is a low water-use thyme for the hot dry areas that rarely flowers.

Common Name: Regal Mist Muhly Grass, Regal Mist Gulf Coast Muhly

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.

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: Blue Grama Grass

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.

Common Name: Littleleaf Mockoragne

Littleleaf mockorange is native throughout the foothills, dry rocky slopes and open woodlands from 4000 to 8000' in the Southwest usually growing to only 4 feet. This native mockorange is similar in form to the European import, they are fragrant, but not of orange. Attractive white, 4 petaled flowers bloom in early summer, small slightly glossy green leaves. Coldy hardy, heat and drought tolerant.

Common Name: Coral Bells, H. sanguinea, Alum root

Common Name: Jupiter's Beard, Red Valerian

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.

Common Name: Alpenglow geranium.

Cranesbill belongs to the same Geraniaceae family as do the Pelargoniums, those red, hot house geraniums we all love. Both are perennials, however many cranesbill (referred to as the true geraniums) are cold hardy for us. Alpenglow is semi-evergreen, and evergreen in warm winters. Notice the intricate cut leaf patterns, which are much admired by myself and others. A good understory plant for the edge of a shady border.

Common Name: Heavenly Bamboo, Nandina

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.

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: Golden Current

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.

Common Name: Snow on the Mountain

Snow on the Mountain is a showy plant native to the plains states. Heat and drought tolerant in the Texas Panhandle. Striking variegated green and white foliage, with small white summer flowers. Can be invasive and is toxic to humans, sap of plant may cause dermatitis. Deer resistant. Control spread by deadheading.

Common Name: Buffalograss

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®.

Common Name: Western Sand Cherry

Western sand cherry is a shrub native to the northern plains favoring sandy soils. Cold and heat tolerant, and low water-use once established. Beautiful, fragrant white flowers in spring time, producing edible black cherries (however, some references advice not to eat the fruit if it is bitter).

Common Name: Columbine, Golden or Yellow Columbine

Delicate and fragile in appearance, columbines are some of the most durable, versatile plants in the West. Aquilegia chrysantha is the Texas native columbine, happy in both sun or shade, moist areas or dry. Aquilegia chrysantha is native to the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Desert canyons from west Texas, southern New Mexico, southern Utah, and Arizona south into Sonora, Coahuila, and Nuevo Leon along with a disconnected population in southern Colorado.

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: Blue Avena Grass, blue oat grass

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.

Common Name: Silky Thread Grass

A mid height grass suitable for any low water-use garden, city or country. It does self-seed somewhat, but I hadn’t noticed it to be a problem in a xeric setting (simply remove or transplant them). It's greatest attribute is it's gently flowing nature int he wind. It is native to Texas and the southwest. I saw it growing along the slopes of the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park. It pairs well with yucca, agave, Calylophus and any native shrub.

Common Name: Salvia darcyi

The flowers of Salvia darcyi are similar in appearance to Salvia greggii, however the shrub itself is more herbaceous than shrubby. I know of no common name for S. dacryi. Some sources say it is cold hardy to Zone 7, however it thrives in Denver Botanical Garden’s Zone 5. S. darcyi is native to the mountains of Northern Mexico and will do well in amended soil. Hummingbirds love it.

I have it planted in my xeristrip for a number of years. It will flower more vigorously with irrigation everyother week, when needed during hot drought years.

Common Name: Silver Speedwell

Most gardeners’ acquaintance with veronicas is with the Veronica spicatas, ‘Red Fox’, ‘Icicle’, and ‘Sunny Border Blue’; the tall, spiky red, white and blue medium and high water-use veronicas. But consider the low water-use option, V. incana. Deadhead to prolong the blooms and water deeply once a month, once established in well-drained soil. The gray-green leaves should be a give-away by now as to its water requirements.

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