5 Best Flowering Perennials for Austin

by Jenny Peterson on November 17, 2011

in Garden Design,Gardening Tips

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Desert Dweller / David C. November 17, 2011 at 10:25 am

Nice choices, Ms Peterson – especially #1 & #4, probably since they are more exotic to me. You should use this “top 5″ theme in a Jenny garden podcast someday!

When in Austin, I like how Four Nerve Daisy dots the tops of your chalky roadcuts. And your Blackfoot Daisy makes ours look utterly defeated.

Claudia A November 18, 2011 at 9:13 am

My Mexican Bush Sage has had a hard time since last year’s snow and then this brutal summer. One of them died altogether, the other is kinda runty looking. What do you suggest to help it along?

Jenny Peterson November 18, 2011 at 11:14 am

Thanks David! Ooh, I forgot about Four Nerve Daisy–that should be #6!

Claudia, this past summer was so awful, don’t feel bed if even bullet-proof plants suffer or don’t make it. Compost the first one and cut back the second one, and say a prayer that it comes back next spring! During drought times, water less frequently but more deeply, and don’t be afraid to give a flowering perennial a mid-summer haircut to re-energize it. Also, this fall it’s a good idea to amend your soil with some good compost–this will help your plants next year to withstand our crazy Austin weather. Good luck!

Stacy March 22, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Where can I find some globe mallow here in Austin?

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