Between work, school, family and everything else going on in our busy lives, many of us just don’t have the time to plant and maintain beautiful garden color each season. Spring often motivates us to hit the garden center and focus solely on spring blooms ... only to be left without much garden interest the rest of the year. But there are many perennial plants that offer up beautiful blooms during our hot summers and beyond, AND are low-maintenance, AND heat tolerant! Yes, heat hardy and water-wise landscapes can also be lush and colorful!
*The USDA Hardiness Zone map puts Houston in Zone 9a, but communities just north of the city are in 8b.
Here are some of our Texas-tough, heat tolerant bloomer recommendations for your garden:
One of the most diverse and useful groups of plants for summer color must be the sages – botanically known as the Salvias. They are both tough and attractive bushes, that for the most part are drought tolerant, highly pest resistant and low-maintenance. They also attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies!
Indigo Spire Salvia
This hybrid salvia makes a large, rounded bush covered with long spikes of deep blue flowers. It is a non-stop bloomer from early summer through fall! It's also hardy over most winters. Plant in full sun to light shade, in well-drained soil, and give it plenty of room since it grows quickly to 4 or more feet tall and wide. Give it “haircuts” in early and mid summer to help prevent flopping, and for fresh blooms.
*Note: Indigo Spires and May Night look very similar, but one difference being Indigo Spires is a taller, more rounded bush compared to May Night.
May Night (Salvia Sylvestris)
Outstanding for its compact growth habit, profuse deep purple flower spikes and vigorous re-blooming nature. "May Night" thrives in hot, sunny planting sites. The first flush of flowers comes in late spring. Deadheading and a little extra watering assures heavy re-blooming.
Hardiness Zones: 5 - 9
Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)
Tough, drought tolerant, deer resistant, highly pest resistant salvia with showy spikes of purple and white, or solid purple, blossoms. It grows to heights of 2-4 ft.
Hardiness Zone: 8
• Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata)
Sometimes called "sky flower" because of the sky-blue color of its flowers. This somewhat tender perennial loves the Texas heat and will bloom profusely with blue flowers from May until frost. It likes an occasional drink during extended dry spells, but is drought-tolerant, as well as disease, pest, and deer resistant. In sun or light shade, the long, arching stems make a soft mound or can be trained vertically like a vine. *On Texas Superstar list!
Hardiness Zones: 8b - 11.
A tough, hardy shrub (height 4-5 ft) that lights up Texas gardens with fast-growing,BIG, tropical-looking flowers that bloom all summer and fall. Once established, this gorgeous perennial will provide years of color They are hardy in Texas heat, need full sun, thrive in moist, well-drained soil, and are relatively drought-tolerant. Hibiscus need some pruning once in awhile, so cut back after winter freeze. There are many different varieties and colors to choose from, one being Hibiscus 'Lord Baltimore', which is on the Texas Superstar list!
Hardiness Zones: 4 - 9
Beautiful trailing or spreading perennial reaching 1 ft. height with profusion of lavender, purple or white flowers. Lantana thrives in Texas heat, is wind & drought tolerant. It's also deer, pest, and disease resistant. It can also be used as a beautiful groundcover! Lantana goes dormant in the winter and needs to be cut back to about 6 inches in late February. *On Texas Superstar list!
Hardiness Zone: 8b.
*FYI - Beyond Lantana, we detailed several other great plants for our area that can also be used as groundcovers in our recent Groundcovers blog here.
Texas has many other hardy plant options that tolerate our extremes with minimal soil preparation, watering, or pesticides. Living Expression Landscapes designs with your lifestyle and our environment in mind. So if you're looking to replace more of your landscape with hardscape or Texas-tough plantings, then we can help with that! Contact us for a consultation.