Welcome back for more of Texas Native Plant Week here at JPGD! Last night I had my staff pull together their favorite native plants, and this morning they presented the list to me while I lounged poolside with Fernando the Cabana Boy serving me coffee…..yeah, well, a girl can dream, right? Anyhow, I want to offer you my suggestions for my favorite native tree, shrub, flowering perennial, ornamental grass and vine, because you know fall is the time to plan and plant for your garden next year! Feast your eyes on these lovelies:
TREE: Texas Red Oak (Quercus texana): I love this tree! Although it’s a deciduous one and I generally prefer evergreen trees, this one’s fall foliage makes up for all that no-leaves-in-the-winter nonsense. The Texas Red Oak grows from 15-30′ tall and wide, prefers full sun and explodes into vibrant color in the fall when the leaves become bright red and orange. It’s also well adapted to the rocky soils that Texans so often have, but is also susceptible to oak wilt. The Shumard Red Oak (Q. shumardii) is an alternative but only for those with deep, well-drained soils.
SHRUB: Dwarf Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria): Yes, I know there are flashier shrubs out there. Use the flashy shrubs with the dwarf yaupon holly, which is a near-perfect backdrop in any style garden. This evergreen shrub resembles boxwood with its small dark green leaves and dense growing habit. And actually, this is a hybrid shrub that isn’t 100% native but it’s so close that I had to include it. It grows up to 4′ tall and wide, but is fairly slow-growing so buy the biggest ones you can afford or you’ll be waiting awhile for them to fill in. DYH makes a great hedge or shrub grouping, and can be used in topiary because of its dense growth. Try it; you’ll love it!
FLOWERING PERENNIAL: Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea): You want a flower that will bloom in the sun but also take a little shade? How about one that is drought-tolerant, deer-resistant, and has a gorgeous pinkish-purple and orange bloom? And add low maintenance to that impossible wish list and you’ve got Purple coneflower! This perennial just delivers, and does it reliably. Just cut it back after the first freeze does its damage and you’ll be treated again in the spring with vigorous growth and bloom. Love it!!
ORNAMENTAL GRASS: Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris): So many ornamental grasses are overbearing and loud, like your Uncle George at the family Christmas party after he’s had one too many hot toddies. Not gulf muhly! This grass is the perfect size (2 1/2′ tall and wide), doesn’t reseed obnoxiously, offers insanely pinkish seed heads in the fall and enjoys full to part sun. Cut it back in February when you see new green growth at the base, and that’s all she wrote. This one deserves to be in your garden.
VINE: Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens): This semi-evergreen vine grows about 6-12′ long, depending upon its environment, and does well in full sun to part shade. It’s fairly drought tolerant once established and offers a plethora of coral tubular flowers in spring and summer, attracting butterflies to your garden.
We all have our faves; which ones are yours? Got a perennial you can’t live without? A tree you just discovered? Leave your comments and share with the rest of us. I’ll be hanging at the poolside waiting to read them.