If your peonies are looking puny and your daffodils are drooping, chances are, you planted some seriously unsuitable plants in a hostile environment. In the hot, humid, and often drought-stricken climate of Central Texas, the more native plants in your landscape, the higher your chances of enjoying low-maintenance flowers year-round. To get you started, here’s a guide to some of the native plants and flowers that thrive in Austin and Round Rock.
Ground covers serve many purposes. They form a base layer in your landscape design that provides ground-level color and texture. They also shade the ground, which helps to conserve water. Silver ponyfoot is a beautiful, bright ground cover that forms a dense mat of tiny cup-shaped leaves. The leaves cascade over the edges of containers and terraces. Lyre-leaf sage is a hearty, flowering ground cover with evergreen leaves that’s often used around the bases of trees, as it performs well in sun or shade. Sedum is a succulent ground cover that tolerates poor soil. It comes in many shapes and sizes, flowers in the fall and blushes red in the winter.
For concealing unsightly fences and adding vertical color and texture to walls and surfaces, vines are perfect. Fig vine will cling to walls, forming a vertical evergreen carpet, even in part shade. Carolina jessamine creates a wall of foliage with yellow flowers that attract hummingbirds. Star jasmine features glossy leaves that withstand cold winters and fills the air with the sweetest fragrance. Crossvine and coral honeysuckle add color to walls, fences, and trellises. They also provide nectar for hummingbirds, bees, and birds throughout the seasons.
For seasonal interest that returns year after year, plant perennials in your landscape. Most of these plants are cut back to a few inches in the winter and return vigorously each spring. Esperanza, or yellow bells, throws out cheerful yellow or orange blooms that last throughout the hottest summer. Cast iron plants have blade-like, evergreen foliage that performs well in the shade. Bicolor iris forms tidy evergreen clumps with creamy, yellow flowers in spring and early summer. Purple coneflower and rock rose throw up pops of pink that draw butterflies. Duranta or skyflower is a dense perennial with deep purplish-blue flowers from summer to autumn.
Shrubs give landscapes color, texture, and often privacy and structure. Possumhaw holly lends a bit of flair to the yard with festive, red berries in the fall that persist even as the leaves drop off — to dramatic effect. Japanese aralia can give shaded areas a lush, tropical feel. Wooly butterfly bush is an unusual shrub featuring fuzzy, grayish leaves and bizarre orange flowers that butterflies flock to. Texas sage is a silvery-leafed shrub that blooms before rainstorms. That’s why it’s affectionately nicknamed “barometer bush.” Any number of roses, from antique climbers to the knockout cultivars can add fragrant, colorful flowers to your beds year-round.
Small Trees/Large Shrubs
When it comes to understory trees and bold autumn colors, there are a number of small native trees and shrubs that fit the bill. The Texas smoke tree has beautiful fall foliage and flowers that, once spent, display stunning, smoke-like poofs. Mexican redbuds burst into bright pink blooms in springtime. The flameleaf sumac erupts into brilliant flame-like colors in autumn.
This is a very short list to demonstrate the wonderful range of native plants and flowers available in Austin and Round Rock. There are far more natives than you may imagine. By getting back to our roots and with native plants in your landscape, you can spend less time working on the garden and more time enjoying it.
Interested in learning more about gardening and lawn care in Austin? Visit our Austin TX, lawn care page.