Well Amended Garden Soil

Soil amended with 4-6 inches of compost or other organic and inorganic for medium or higher water use plants, including vegetable gardens.

Common Name: Caladiums, angels wings, elephant ears.

Caladium corms are tropical plants grown for their summer foliage, however they do send up an arum type flower (a member of the Araceae family). Foliage comes in many different variegation patterns in red, pink and white. There are a over a thousand cultivars, most from the Caladium bicolor species. Plant bulbs after May 1st, only about 3 inch deep. Caladiums like it hot and moist. Complete shade works OK, or morning sun only.There are a few sun tolerant cultivars available. For larger leaves.

Common Name: Blackie, Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine

A tuber mostly grown in containers or a summer groundcover, not considered cold-hardy in the Panhandle. Striking purple-black foliage with small light magenta flowers, similar in appearance to bindweed. Ipomoea’s are members of the bindweed family, Convolvulaceae. One bad relation doesn’t have to trash the family, however.

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: Karl Foerster Reed Grass

Karl Foerster feather reed grass is a cool season bunch grass one of the best ornamental grasses for a medium or high water-use area. In a low water-use area, it will take longer to reach mature height and width (the more water it gets, the bigger it'll get). Karl Foerster feather reed grass suffers in the xeric bed during the hotter, drier drought years and may die out.

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: Bee Balm

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.

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: Crape Myrtle

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.

Common Name: Rose mallow, Texas Star

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.

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: 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: Cypress Vine

Cypress vine is a native annual tropical vine of the Americas, but has naturalized in Florida and the Gulf Coast areas; said to be cold hardy to Zone 6. Fine lacy or thread-like leaves twine as it grows, putting on scarlet red flowers in summer. In addition to being a climber, it can be used as a groundcover.

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: Persicaria, Red Dragon, Red Dragon Knotweed

The most remarkable quality of Red Dragon Persicaria is its burgundy red patterned leaves and red stems, a plant grown much more for its foliage than flowers. (The flower stalk in the upper right is of Acanthus spinosus.) Not a native (native to China) it will come back if nipped by a late frost and will suffer sunburn in afternoon sun. Red Dragon may take 3 years before flowering, however, that is not a drawback.

Common Name: Honeysuckle, yellow

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.

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: Zephirin Drouhin Rose

Remarkable old Bourbon rose dating to 1868. Remarkable for fragrance and bright cerise pink flowers, and best of all, thornless canes -- it's people friendly!  Not strictly a climber, but a mannerly climber.

Zephirin Drouhin is planted in a low water-use location.

Common Name: Honeysuckle, coral

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.

Common Name: Yellow Corydalis

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.

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: Maypop, Passion Vine

Maypop, or passion vine, is a perennial vine native to eastern and southern areas of the U.S. In the South, maypop grows into a woody vine, but in northern areas like the Texas Panhandle, it will die back to the ground. Lobed, dark green leaves, beautiful, unique flowers emerge in the summer to fall, producing edible fruit. Maypop will sucker, especially when ample watering is present. Passion vine, the most cold hardy of the genus, should be cold hardy to Zone 6.

Common Name: Dianthus 'Bath's Pink'

This pink (old common name referring to the pinked edges) is pink. Heat tolerant fragrant perennial forms a spreading mound. The buds provide interest for several weeks before they open. Other perennial dianthus thrive in our area, biennial and annual dianthus as well. Look for heat tolerant varieties. D. gratianopolitanus ‘Firewitch’ is another dianthus to try. Carnations, maiden pinks, Sweet Williams are members of this genus. There are many hybrid cultivars, and more every year.

Common Name: May Night Meadow Sage

1997 Perennial Plant of the Year was chosen for it versatility in growing in many different regions of the US. And it will grow in our Panhandle gardens as well. Although reported to be drought tolerant once established, it does much better in a medium water-use environment with afternoon shade. When it is excessively hot and dry, it suffers from stress, but usually survive. Just give it a little more water when this happens.

Attractive to bees and butterflies. Seedlings may happily  appear in springtime. Native to Europe and Central Asia.

Common Name: Fame Flower, Flame Flower, Rock Pink

Fame flower, flame flower, or rock pink, is a Midwestern native succulent. Ideally suited to western rock gardens, short fleshy narrow leaves emerge in late spring, followed by wiry stems where tiny rose/pink flowers open up each afternoon. In fall, the top foliage dies off and the plant heads underground for the winter. Because of it's unusual nature, it can be tucked in anywhere at the front of a border, just don't forget where you've planted it when doing spring cleanup. Reseeds slightly.

Phemeranthus calycinum was formerly known as Talinum calycinum.

Common Name: Purple Coneflower

A terrific variety for the prairie garden, though requiring prairie conditions -- good soil with good drainage and more frequent watering than our native, E. angustifolia. Coneflowers are all the rage right now with many new introductions every year, ranging from white, yellow, orange to the popular purple. Most of these should be located in your medium to high water-use area. The richer the soil and with weekly watering (high), you'll enjoy grander blooms. A good border plant in the transition area between turf and medium water-use. E.

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