Plants, whether native or non-native once established, that thrive with supplemental irrigation of one inch per month during the growing season under average climate conditions in clay soil if that amount of moisture has not been received.
Prairie dropseed is smaller than both alkali or giant sacaton, more fitting for the city garden. A warm season bunch grass, prairie dropseed is a most attractive low or medium water-use grass with graceful green foliage. The seed heads emerge in late summer into fall with light pink seeds, that is said to naturalize some, but not invasively. A slow grower. Foliage turns a pleasing golden orange in the fall. Native throughout the Great Plains, including Texas. Tolerates most soil conditions.
Shrub live oak, often a medium size shrub, is native to the Southwest and the Texas Panhandle typically found in canyons, rocky cliffs and hillsides. Sometimes called a holly oak, the leaves are 3-4 inches long, spine-tipped and holly shaped bluish green leaves. It is prolific in putting out acorns. Cold hardy, heat and drought tolerant.
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.
Rose of Sharon, or Althea, is another reliable old-fashioned garden plant well suited for the Texas Panhandle. My favorite cultivar is Diana because of the brilliant, pure white 4-5” flowers and somewhat glossy green leaves. Diana is also one of the smaller varieties up to about 6 - 8 feet, while others can reach 10’ tall. Similar to most altheas, 'Diana' is a prolific bloomer.
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.
Low growing, drought tolerant evergreen groundcover that becomes covered in tiny sky blue flowers in early spring for about 6 weeks, then sporadically throughout the year. I’ve seen a few twinkling blue blooms in every month of the year. The tiny leaves of V. pectinata are gray-green and tomentose. Allow plenty of room for the spread of this fabulous groundcover; it’ll just keep going and going and going. And you won’t want it to stop.
Sumacs are known for brillian fall foliage. Ground cover woody shrub 24-30" tall with dark shiny green leaves that turn a thrilling orange-red in the fall. Small yellow flowers at springtime.
One of North America's favorite annuals. There is much variety in size and colors of flowers, ranging from yellow, golden, orange, red/orange, red and mahogany. The plants themselves can vary from 3-4 feet to 8 feet or more. Seeds sown in springtime will be insure blooms in late summer or fall. Great for cut flowers.
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.
Littleleaf mountain mahogany is the shortest of the mountain mahoganies usually sold. Small, narrow, leathery looking evergreen leaves on many intricate branches. Small yellow flowers in springtime and feathery seed plumes in the fall. The shrub is densely branched and slow growing.
Snowberry is a woody plant that spreads from the roots, sending up arching branches every couple of inches to about 3-4 feet high. The small green leaves are pleasant as are the white spring flowers, followed by the remarkable pearly white berries. During the summer, I inspect the snowberry bush weekly for signs of the berries. They never remain long on the bush, as the birds quickly devour them (they're said to be toxic to humans). Snowberries thrive in part shade and medium to low/medium watering. they easily propagate by digging out and transplanting the roots.
Small green gray evergreen leaves forms mounded, low growing xeric plant with small white flowers in late spring. Does not spread vigorously. Easily propagated by root cuttings. An alpine from the Balkans region.
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.
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.
Yuccas for Texas High Plains Landscapes
Rarely does a shrub feature as much versatility as the blue mist spirea. It will grow and flower in sun or shade, low water-use or high. This Caryopteris, a hybrid itself, normally blooms in a pleasant light blue, but other selections have deeper blues hues. Summer blooming into fall. And as unlikely at it seems for hybrid to set viable seed, blue mist spirea reproduces itself pleasantly, never invasively. Indeed, any little volunteers are welcome.
Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks', arching branches similar to S. canadensis 'Golden Baby', only is low water-use and more golden in color. Fireworks goldenrod will also flower in summer and again in the fall. Makes a great splash in the summer garden.
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.
Turpentine shrub is an evergreen shrub native to the southern parts of the Southwest, and only marginally cold hardy on the Caprock. It will survive when in a sheltered location and soil with excellent drainage, along rocky cliffs, outcrops and arroyos. Avoid compact clay soil, or amend clay soil very well for drainage with inorganic amendments. Yellow autumn flowers.
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.
Old fashion garden and English cottage garden herbaceous perennial that works well in the Southwest Cottage Garden. Hollyhocks are considered to be either a biennial or perennial. They produce copious seed but are not considered invasive or troublesome. Plant seed in the fall, or early spring. Avoid watering the foliage if irrigating, a drip system works better that above ground sprinklers.
Linum lewisii, the southwestern and western native perennial wildflower variety of flax was named after Meriwether Lewis, who was first to describe it during the Lewis and Clark Expedition. On July 18th, 1805, near the Great Falls of the Missouri Lewis recorded: "I have observed for several days a species of the flax growing in the river bottoms the leaf stem and pericarp of which resembles the common flax cultivated in the U'States. The stem rises to the hight of about 2 1/2 or 3 feet high; as many as 8 or ten of which proceeds from the same root.
Unlike, S. nemorosa ‘May Night’, I don’t mind deadheading this salvia, perhaps because of its plum color it does not require as persistent deadheading. Notice the gray-green leaves of ‘Plumosa’, versus the green leaves of ‘May Night’. The stems tend to flop, but the flower stalks continue to grow and flower upright -- very strange.
Grown extensively throughout the southwest, I don’t know why it has taken so long for this plant to become available in the Panhandle, especially since it is cold hardy to Zone 5.
It is a bit slow to become established, and late in coming out in the springtime – have patience and place a marker so it’s not forgotten and weeded up. Note: Early spring-emerging plant may look similar to bindweed. It is best to plant this wild fuchsia in spring, rather than the fall. I noticed better success with quart to gallon size plants.
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.