We all know that fall is the best time to plant perennials, right? So if you’re an Austin gardener and you’ve suffered through the Summer of Hell ’11 (we should have T-shirts made), you might be reconsidering what plants to put in the ground now. They’ve gotta be tough, drought tolerant, relatively pest-and-disease free, and oh yeah—really, really pretty! Are there such plants in existence? Why, yes, there are! Here are my top 5 go-to flowering perennials for Austin–plant these and you’ll be a happy camper. Er, gardener.
- Mexican Bush Sage: (Salvia leucantha) Truly one of my favorites! This perennial will start to bloom sometime during the summer, depending upon the weather, and continue to be a show-stopper into the fall. If you give it plenty of sun, regular irrigation and good drainage, it’ll grow up to 3 1/2 feet tall and wide. It’s got a lighter green slender leaf with purple and white long blooms–gorgeous! Cut it back to about 6″ to a foot after the first freeze when you see damage.
- Mexican Mint Marigold: (Tagetes lucida) Another outstanding native, Mexican mint marigold offers smallish yellow blooms atop 2 feet of green, aromatic foliage. This one will take full sun and average water, but is quite drought tolerant once established.
- Yellow Bells: (Tecoma stans) Looking for a large flowering shrubby perennial? Look no further! Yellow bells, or esperanza, grows up to 6 feet tall or even taller, if it likes its spot. Full sun, good drainage and regular irrigation are its preferences, but it’s very drought tolerant after you get it going. A profusion of yellow flowers with bushy green foliage makes a perfect large addition to the back of your border.
- Batface Cuphea: (Cuphea llavea) This plant is too adorable for words–the black and red flowers that look like a little batface with big ears is irresistible to both old and young gardeners! The fact that it’s super tough and takes our sometimes naughty weather in stride is just another notch on its belt. Give it full to part sun and medium water and it’ll grow up to 2 feet tall and wide.
- Globe Mallow: (Sphaeralcea mnroana) I love plants with slightly unusual color combos, like this one–greyish foliage with bright orange blooms! It seems kind of contemporary to me. When the heat hits Austin, globe mallow will perk up and laugh in its face. Expect this badass plant to grow up to 3′ tall and 2′ wide in full sun and moderate watering.What are your favorite flowering plants for Austin? Ones that take the heat, defy the deer and aren’t too thirsty? I could easily choose another 5–we have so many awesome ones for our area–these are just 5 to get us going! Add yours to the list.