Totally Tenacious and Texas Tough!
By Heidi Sheesley with TreeSearch Farms Inc.
1. Taxodium mucronatum - Montezuma Cypress - A beautiful fast growing relative of the Bald Cypress. It has a fuller more spreading habit & is almost evergreen in milder climates. It can hold its foliage into December & leafs out at least a month before the Bald Cypress. The Montezuma Cypress does not develop “knees”, so mowing underneath is not a problem. It tolerates wet conditions & drought. Full sun.
2. Plantanus mexicana - Mexican Sycamore – An outstanding sycamore with better insect & disease resistance & drought tolerance than the American Sycamore. It’s a long-lived, fast growing shade tree to a height of 80’-100’ tall. As the young trees mature, the undersides to the large leaves turn a spectacular silver-white giving a stunning display when there’s a breeze. The foliage on a Mexican Sycamore stays an attractive olive-green normally through December before it starts to defoliate. The Mexican Sycamore tolerates a wide range of soils, along with being quite drought tolerant & flood tolerant. Full sun.
3. Chionanthus retusus - Chinese Fringe Tree - A fast growing ornamental tree with attractive glossy dark green oval foliage that turns bright yellow in fall. Puts on an incredible display of fringy white flowers in March. Looks like a thick white cloud at a distance. Has wonderful sculptured trunks & by late summer is covered with clusters of attractive dark blue fruit. Full sun or light shade. A gorgeous but tough tree! Good drainage. 25’ x 20’.
5. Ilex decidua ‘Paco’s’ - ‘Paco’s’ Possumhaw (deciduous yaupon) - A single or multi-trunked small ornamental native tree. This female selection is absolutely covered with gorgeous red berries all winter. It practically glows with color during drab winter days! Tough, drought tolerant & will take periodic wet conditions. Sun or part shade. A shelter & food source for birds.
7. Ungnadia speciosa - Mexican Buckeye - A drought tolerant, sun loving, flowering native tree. The limbs are covered with pink flowers in March; then the tree produces interesting, ornamental seedpods. Fall foliage color is a bright yellow. Mexican Buckeye is normally a multi-trunked 18’ x 18’ tree & prefers full sun & good drainage. This is an excellent small tree where there will be no irrigation. Tough, once established.
- Retama - A flowering native tree to south
9. Vitex agnus-castus ‘Montrose Purple’- Montrose Purple Vitex – Vitex is a fast growing, colorful, tough little tree that produces 4”-6” panicles of blue flowers at least three times from mid spring through summer. ‘Montrose Purple’ is a new selection with slightly larger foliage & magnificent blooms that are 3 times larger & have a richer, dark blue color than the standard Vitex. A drought tolerant, sun loving small, single or multi-trunked tree averaging 18’ x 18’. Another outstanding ornamental tree that requires no irrigation once established. Butterflies!
19. Duranta erecta – Duranta or Golden Dew Drops - Duranta forms a large, full, root hardy “shrub” that is covered with tight clusters of blue, white, or purple flowers in heavy cycles late spring thru fall. It also produces dangling clusters of yellow berries. A must for any butterfly garden!!! Prefers full sun but will take light shade. There’s a dark blue variety called ‘Dark Skies’, a white variety, and a purple variety called ‘Sweet Memory’. Butterflies!
20. Tecoma Stans ‘Gold Star’- ‘Gold Star’ Yellow Bells - An outstanding selection of our native Yellow Bells that’s extremely floriferous even as a young plant! This 4’-6’ perennial-shrub produces a stunning display of 2” bright yellow trumpet-shaped flowers all summer on large terminal panicles. It blooms late spring into fall in heavy bloom cycles. Responds well to pruning. Tough & drought tolerant. Sun. Hummingbirds.
21. Erythrina herbacea - Coralbean - A hardy, drought tolerant native shrub that bears tall 24”-36” spikes of bright red tubular flowers in summer followed by 8” bean-like pods that split open to expose scarlet-red seed. Spectacular! Coralbean has small thorns so it makes a great barrier plant where one doesn’t want foot traffic! It’s very drought tolerant & normally is found in full sun, yet it will also grow in shade & tolerate wet. Averages 6 ’tall. Hummingbirds!
Muhlenbergia capillaris -
23. Muhlenbergia lindheimerii - Lindheimer Muhly - Another wonderful, clumping, drought tolerant native grass with very narrow, upright aqua blue foliage. In late summer, Lindheimer Muhly produces narrow, elegant flower spikes covered with creamy flowers with a tinge of purple that turn silver-gray at maturity. Lindheimer Muhly can be used as a single specimen in a perennial border or in mass plantings. The flowers are stunning in arrangements. Averages 3’ tall. It tolerates a wide range of soil conditions & is drought tolerant once established. Needs to be well drained. Sun.
24. Muhlenbergia dumosa - Bamboo Muhly - A striking native grass with delicate airy foliage on narrow bamboo-like canes. The canes grow in graceful, arching clumps 4’-6’ tall. The overall grass has a graceful, light, airy, cloudlike appearance & is stunning in any full sun landscape, whether as a single specimen, in a grouping, or in large decorative containers. It’s also wonderful in fresh & dried flower arrangements. Bamboo Muhly does best in well-drained, fertile soil & is very heat & drought tolerant once established. Full sun.
2. Penstemon tenuis - Gulf Coast Penstemon - A native Texas evergreen perennial with 3’ stalks of tubular lavender flowers in spring. Sun, part shade. Hummingbirds! Blooms for 6 to 8 weeks in spring.
3. Ruellia brittoniana - Katie Ruellia - A great low growing, tough perennial that takes almost any condition thrown at it! Low 8”-10” mounds with lance-shaped foliage. Blooms attractive violet, white, or pink flowers in heavy cycles till the first freeze. Grows in sun or part shade & will tolerate dry & wet conditions. Goes dormant in winter. The plants clump out & they also multiply from seed. It’s also used for erosion control.
4. Viola hederacea - Australian Violet - An outstanding evergreen groundcover for shade gardens! Forms a lush carpet, 1”-2” tall, of bright green foliage & is almost constantly blooming adorable white & blue violet flowers in heavy cycles spring, summer, & fall. Must have understory conditions & especially afternoon shade. Also looks great cascading out of containers. Moist, well drained soil.
5. Polygonum sp. - Pink Buttons - A beautiful groundcover for shade (or sun if irrigated). Green-burgundy foliage with pink “button” flowers practically all spring, summer, & fall. Grows about 2”-3” tall. Goes dormant in winter.
6. Habranthus robustus ‘Libra’ - Libra Rainlily - An unbelievably prolific repeat blooming rainlily! Blooms beautiful 2”-3” apple-blossom pink flowers during rainy periods spring, summer, & fall. Has attractive grass-like foliage 10”-12” tall. Multiplies from bulb & seed. Sun or part shade. Rainlilies are spectacular in mass plantings, wonderful tucked in pockets throughout the garden, and also love showing off in containers. For a delicate looking plant, these are quite tough. Will tolerate wet & dry.
8. Zephyranthes candida - White Rainlily - Showy white flowers late summer-fall. Evergreen grass-like foliage. Forms beautiful clumps 10” tall. Light shade or full sun. Moist, well drained. A wonderful bulb that slowly multiplies.
9. Carex phyllocephala - Sparkler Carex - Outstanding! A gorgeous, attention-getting, evergreen sedge that resembles Forth of July sparklers with whorls of dramatic white & green foliage atop 12”-15” stems. It’s a clump forming “grass” that’s attractive as one specimen or absolutely spectacular as a mass planting! Prefers light shade & moist, well drained soil. Will grow in full sun if in an irrigated bed. Practically maintenance free!
11. Justicia brandegeana - Red Shrimp Plant - Native to Mexico, this wonderful hummingbird attractor forms a 3’ mound of soft, apple-green leaves & produces 3”-4” spikes of overlapping plum-red bracts with bright red & cream flowers. These spikes eventually lengthen to 6”-7” & resemble large red shrimp. Justicia fulvicoma - Orange Shrimp Plant produces 3” spikes of overlapping plum-red bracts with bright orange flowers. Once established, these heirloom varieties of shrimp plants are quite tough considering that, at one time, they had survived years of neglect on old home sites. They are root hardy, respond well to pruning, & grow in sun or part shade. Hummingbirds!!!
12. Lantana sp. - New Gold & Silver Mound Lantana - Two fabulous perennials for any sunny garden! Tough, low mounding, colorful, & drought tolerant once established. ‘New Gold’ is a bright golden-yellow & ‘Silver Mound’ is a bright creamy-white & they go beautifully together because they have the exact same growth habit, 24”x 24” mounding plants. Sun or light shade. Moist, well drained. Butterflies!
13. Lantana montevidensis - Trailing Purple & Trailing White Lantana - Two more wonderful, tough, low growing, colorful lantanas for sunny areas. These are native to South & Central Texas. They are more of a trailing form & are useful as a “ground cover”, spilling over edges of retaining walls, containers, flower boxes, or hanging baskets. The colors are lavender-purple & a pure white. Sun or light shade. Moist, well drained. Butterflies!
14. Capsicum annuum var. aviculara - Chili Pequin - This native perennial pepper makes a beautiful addition to the garden. It is a 2’ – 3’ mounding shrub that is covered with small white flowers & bright red, “bird’s eye” peppers much of the year. It’s tough once established, prefers full sun & good drainage, & also re-seeds. They are great for spicing up dishes & birds love the fruit too!
Society Garlic - An extremely well adapted evergreen perennial
17. Hesperaloe parviflora - Red Yucca - A tough, drought tolerant, evergreen native perennial that produces 4’-6’ stalks of coral-red flowers that bloom profusely for months during the summer. These stalks emerge from clumps of narrow 2’-3’ dark green “leaves”. Red Yucca is adaptable to a wide range of soils & climates across the state. They grow in sun or light shade & need good drainage. Hummingbirds!
18. Anisicanthus wrightii - Flame Acanthus - A tough, native 3’ shrubby perennial covered with bright orange tubular flowers steadily all summer into fall. Sun. Hummingbirds & Butterflies! Extremely drought tolerant.
20. Cuphea ignea ‘David Verity’ - David Verity Cuphea - A compact & more refined version of the giant cigar plant. ‘David Verity’ forms a 2’-3’ upright, very full plant with small leaves & is a non-stop, profuse bloomer of 1” tubular orange & yellow flowers from spring through fall. A wonderful, tough perennial for sun or light shade. Hummingbirds!
21. Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ - Goldsturm Rudbeckia - A compact selection of the native R. fulgida that blooms in mid summer with masses of golden-yellow, black-eyed daisies. The lush, dark green foliage forms low clumps when not in bloom & averages 18” tall when in bloom. This is an exceptional Rudbeckia. Sun. Butterflies!
24. Wedelia hispida - Zexmania - A native, long-lived, drought tolerant shrubby perennial that forms 18”-24” rounded mounds covered with yellow daisies all spring, summer, & fall. Sun & good drainage. Butterflies!
25. Salvia microphylla ‘Maraschino’ - Maraschino Salvia - One of the hardiest of the red salvias. Evergreen mounding growth that is thick and bushy - 30” x 36”. Attractive small foliage that develops a tinge of burgundy in cool weather. Magnificent bloomer in heavy cycles spring through fall. Flowers are bright red. Responds well to pruning. Hummingbirds!
27. Salvia madrensis - Big Yellow Sage - A striking fall blooming salvia with incredible texture & spectacular 20”-30” long flower spikes of yellow flowers in the fall. This is a very long-lived salvia that forms spectacular upright clumps of very architectural 1/2”-1” square stems covered with wonderfully textured foliage. The flowers are the icing on the cake! Grows 4’-6’ tall & prefers full sun. Hummingbirds & Butterflies.
29. Aster oblongifolius - Prairie Aster – An outstanding native Texas fall blooming aster! Mounds out to 2’x 3’ with tiny gray-green aromatic foliage & is smothered with lavender, yellowed centered daisies all fall. Full sun or light shade. An excellent fall nectar plant! An incredible performer & long lived with good drainage. Butterflies!
30. Aster pringelii - Pringel Aster - An extraordinary aster! Forms a 3'x3' absolute cloud of tiny white flowers for months in the fall. A stunning showstopper in any landscape. Tough once established. Sun, light shade. Moist, well drained soil. Butterflies!
31. Aster carolinianus - Climbing Carolina Aster - A very hardy aster with multiple long, wiry stems that can reach up to 12‘ high. This deciduous climber (de-foliates in winter–does not freeze down) is an outstanding fall bloomer, covered with lavender-blue “daisies” starting in September. Grows in full sun or part shade. Grows well in wet ground & bogs but is also drought tolerant. It’s a native of SC to FL. Butterflies!
32. Heteropteris glabra - Redwing - One tough, non-stop blooming climber or big shrub. Unique, in that it can be trained as a deciduous climber or a 4’ shrub. Covered from spring to fall with thousands of small yellow flowers & red winged seed pods. Easy care! Sun or part shade. Drought & wet tolerant once established.
33. Bignonia capreolata ‘Tangerine Beauty’ - ‘Tangerine Beauty’ Crossvine - A strong, vigorous semi-evergreen to evergreen native vine that produces a spectacular display of bright orange-red trumpet flowers in spring. Crossvine grows well in full sun or light shade & has little tendrils that cling tightly to walls, fences, trees, & other surfaces. Will tolerate drought & occasional flooding conditions. Hummingbirds.