Plants that will live in areas that experience 90-120 heat days (AHS Heat Zone 8) each year where temperatures exceed 86 degrees F. Except for a few limited areas in the Texas Panhandle, our AHS Heat Zone is 8. Plants rated lower than AHS Heat Zone 8 may not survive the summer's heat.
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.
Bigelow's tansyaster is easy to confuse with Tahoka daisy but is not as showy. Bigelow's aster is a fall blooming biennial, with far fewer purple rays and a smaller, yellow brown center disk. It populates plains in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. In the fall, whole fields will wear a purple haze due to this tansyaster.
Switchgrass is one of the best native ornamental grasses of our tall prairies. Switchgrass forms upright bunches of wide 1/2 inch green blades, with open pale purple inflorescence arising another 2 feet in late summer to fall. Switchgrass will thrive with every other week supplemental irrigation. There are many varieties of switchgrass, 'Prairie Sky' is the most drought tolerant (low, xeric) with blue blades. Other fine selections are 'Heavy Metal' with metallic lavender blue foliage turning reddish towards fall, and 'Shenandoah' with leaf blades tipped in red.
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!
Spring blooming crocus is a favorite among gardeners, heralding the end of winter. Many species of crocus can actually bloom in winter months. I've seen crocus bloom as early as mid Janurary, although February and March are more common. There are many different species of crocus, most people choose them by color, height or bloom period. Their colors range from yellow to purple, lavender, violet and white, some in combination of colors. Commonly, Crocus chrysanthus, C. venus, and C. angustifolius. C.
Terrific taller plant for the late summer garden. Native from eastern U.S. that grows well here too in a medium water-use area. Talls stems with numerous yellow centered, small aster-like white flowers that look similar in appearance to Michaelmas daisies. Propagation by root division in spring or by seeds. Does reseed some. Other varieties are 'Snowbank' only to about 4-5' but with larger flowers, and 'Pink Beauty' with pink flowers.
Sometimes referred to as Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘Burgundy’. A cross between G. aristata and G. puchella. I’ve not been able to determine whether these are 2 different varieties, or just name confusion. They must be quite similar, nonetheless. It reseeded once for me, so I'm not sure at all. Medium water for this plant through the heat of summer will prolong blooms, as will afternoon shade. A stunning plant and prolific bloomer for your border.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Virginia creeper, one of our pernicious native creepers, is a worthy low care vine for brilliant fall foliage and deep blue berries (highly toxic to humans) loved by birds. Virginia creeper normally spread by seeds in bird droppings, which is the method it came to my landscape. When spotted early, Virginia creeper easily pulls out, but if not spotted, within no time, it will cover a fence, climb a pole or cover an area. Which can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on one's view.
Alkali sacaton is a perennial warm season bunch grass native to the Southwest. In late summer to fall, airy triangular seed heads wave above the silver green grass blades. Grows in alkali soils, many say in locations where there is moisture nearby, prefering heavy clay soils. It is quite drought tolerant once established, and long lived. It will, of course, grow bigger or smaller depending on water resources.
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.
Daffodils are the most notable of the spring bulbs. Reliable from year to year, daffodils can be depended upon to bloom even when faced with late season blizzards and are unpalatable to deer and squirrels. Daffodils aren't too particular about soil, but do better in amended soil, planted about 4 inches deep in October to December. Typical bloom times are February through April, depending on the variety, and there are thousands of varieties to choose from.
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.
Our showiest native wildflower; an annual. Little care required. Grows along roadsides and in natural areas throughout our region. Gaillardias are popular these days, with many new introductions all the time. G. pulchella is a good choice for seeding in prairie areas with other native grasses and wildflowers.
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.
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.
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.
Black dalea, an autumn blooming southwest native shrub, should be used more in the home xeric landscape. Growing only to about 3 feet, black dalea spreads out with thin, wiry branches and small, green, compound leaves. The shrub becomes completely covered with tiny purple flowers as to be enshrouded in a purple cloud.
Many references are unsure of its cold hardiness to zero, and it had thrived nicely in my city garden in Amarillo. However, it does not seem to be reliably cold hardy. It's a beautiful shrub that provides stunning late fall color that is worth replanting.
You can't have just one. As soon as you plant one, you'll have a drift, then a sweep, then a field if you have the space. But I still don't consider the prairie coneflower to be invasive, merely pleasant. Next to the Indian Blanket, the Mexican Hat shouts Southwest prairies. And its a tough hombre. If your stand becomes too dense or too much, just weed some out. They're adaptable to most native soils and will thrive on available or once a month supplementation. Coneflowers bloom yellow, reddish or brown late spring into fall and make an attractive display when mixed.
Low water-use non-native hybrid shrub (Artemisia arborescens x Artemisia absinthium) from Europe and Asia. Vigorous grower, do not overwater. Coldy hardy to Zone 6. Ever-silver with elegant finely cut leaves. 'Powis Castle' is named for Powis Castle in Wales. Rarely flowers.
For more information and a list a gray and silver leaved plants, read Fifty Shades of Gray, my most viewed page.