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Welcome to our Plant Library! Dave and his staff share their years of experience trying out different plants, along with the maintenance know-how that comes from doing it all yourself. The photos and descriptions here will introduce you to some of the wonderful plant material we can enjoy here in North Texas. We hope you enjoy this handy resource.



Japanese Aralia

Japanese Aralia

(Fatsia japonica)
Huge architectural leaves make this plant a must for the shade garden, blending especially well with pittosporum for a beautiful textural contrast. Prefers a northern or well-shaded exposure; fairly drought-tolerant once established. Too much water can do it in.

Evergreen Clemantis

Evergreen Clemantis

(Clematis armandii)
Another enthusiastic climber, evergreen clematis will scramble up trees and shrubs or cover unattractive fences and sheds in a hurry. Shiny dark green leaves have three leaflets, which twine around to hang on to wires or other plants. Fragrant white blooms in late winter are an added bonus. Like other clematis, keep the roots cool and shaded.

Akebia, Five Leaf

Akebia, Five Leaf

(Akebia quinata)
Interesting foliage has groups of five leaflets on a woody twining vine. Small reddish purple flowers hang in sweet-smelling clusters in spring, and sometimes develop into bean-like pods. Good cover for arbors and fences; also works as groundcover. Semi-evergreen.

Russian Sage

Russian Sage

(Perovskia atriplicifolia)
The airy spikes of Russian sage float like a mist of lavender in a sunny border. A steadfast performer through the dog days of summer in Texas, Russian sage prefers minimal water and fertilizing. It can get large–usually 3′-4′, sometimes taller–but its transparency belies its size and allows it to combine well with many other border perennials.

Wood Fern

Wood Fern

(Thelypteris kunthii)
The lush semi-evergreen fronds of this East Texas native enliven dim corners, turning bronzy in the winter and tolerating poor drainage. Great ferny texture. Not very drought resistant.

Holly Fern

Holly Fern

(Cyrtomium falcatum)
A workhorse of North Texas gardens, the holly fern is reliably evergreen and tough enough to withstand winter winds without shredding. Dark and deeply divided foliage makes a great foil for flowers or other, lighter green ferns in shady borders. Good drought tolerance.

Silver Falls Dichondria

Silver Falls Dichondria

(Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’)
Pale green groundcover that enjoys sun to partial shade. Provides an interesting contrast with other brighter plants in the garden. Once established is a fast grower.

Rosemary Prostrate

Rosemary Prostrate

(Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’)
This rosemary grows in very fragrant blue-green mounds that will get up to 3′ tall. Blue-white flowers appear through mid-summer. Good for cascading over walls and covering slopes; works well in large containers as well. Looks great with salvias, grasses, and roses; likes good drainage and takes little water. Also good for cooking or grilling.

Japanese Variegated Sedge

Japanese Variegated Sedge

(Carex morrowii variegata)
A broad white stripe in the center of medium green leaves makes this sedge a bright spot in shady garden corners. Clumping form will enlarge to twelve or eighteen inches tall and wide, making a nice mass planting or border. Evergreen; will take partial sun. Needs well-drained soil and consistent moisture to do its best.

Texas Sedge

Texas Sedge

(Carex texensis)
Sedges, while not grasses technically, are great plants for shady areas where grass won’t grow. Texas sedge has a fine blade and short habit that makes it carefree–no mowing and very little water needed. It’s what you’ll find growing in native cedar elm groves all around the area. Slow to establish but worth the wait.

Switch Grass

Switch Grass

(Panicum virgatum)
One of the dominant species of our tallgrass prairies, switch grass is a deeply-rooted and highly ornamental grass. Usually bluish-green in summer and yellow in winter, but numerous cultivars have been bred by plantsmen (many in Germany, where our prairie plants are very popular). ‘Dallas Blues’ is very blue-green; ‘Shenandoah’ has reddish stems; ‘Heavy Metal’ is almost silver with burgundy seedheads, and so on. Although switchgrass is said to dislike heavy soil, it seems to do fine in our gumbo clay; it may take over if you give it sandy loam. A good plant for bar ditches and troublesome wet spots, it adds architectural presence to modern landscapes, and feeds a variety of wildlife as well.

Ruby Grass “Pink Crystals”

Ruby Grass “Pink Crystals”

(Melinis nerviglumis ‘Pink Crystals’)
An African tropical annual grass, this blue-green clumper is covered with bright pink bristles in summer which fade to white. Grows two feet tall and 15” wide, prefers full sun and even moisture. Great for pots as well as borders and mass plantings; can be overwintered in pots or will reseed if it finds a spot it likes. (Photo: Proven Winners)

Mexican Feathergrass

Mexican Feathergrass

(Nasella tenuissima)
A soft, fine-textured bunchgrass native to dry woodlands and rocky areas of west Texas and Mexico. Tender bright green new growth is followed by feathery panicles that everyone will want to touch as they walk by. Let it dry in tussocky mounds over the winter and then cut back in early, early spring. We like to plant daffodils underneath to provide a spring display while the grass regrows. By the time the bulb foliage is tired, the grass will have grown up to hide it.

Lindheimer’s Muhly

Lindheimer’s Muhly

(Muhlenbergia lindheimeri)
A native of the Edwards Plateau, big muhly is a beautiful blue-green bunchgrass that grows up to 5′ tall. Flower heads are large, soft silvery green, weathering to straw color in winter. Lovely left standing; you don’t need to cut this grass back every year if you just rake out the old flower stalks. Birds use it as nesting material; it makes a good native substitute for invasive Pampas grass. Full sun and very low water use.

Fountain Grass ‘Hameln’

Fountain Grass ‘Hameln’

(Pennisetum ‘Hameln’)
A bunch grass with fine, wheat-like inflorescences that wave in the breeze. Two to three feet tall. Fountain grass is one of the most drought-tolerant and useful landscape plants for North Texas—remember, we live in a grassland! A smaller variety, ‘Little Bunny,’ has also proven very tough; ‘Moudry’ tends to freeze in some of our harder winters. The flower show for ‘Hameln’ can easily be spectacular for six months. Cut back the straw-colored foliage when you tire of it in late winter (I usually do it on the first of March).

Japanese Bloodgrass

Japanese Bloodgrass

(Imperata cylindrica)
Sun shining through the bright red tips on this grass is truly dazzling. Growing one to two feet tall, this grass will brighten a sunny or partly shady area. Spreads both by seed and underground rhizomes. Note: this grass is banned in southern states and Arkansas as an invasive; best to plant in pots or in a contained area. (Photo: Linda Steider of Steider Studios)

Live Oak

Live Oak

(Quercus virginiana)
A staple of the Southern landscape, live oaks are one of the primary components of the city’s green canopy. Not exactly evergreen (they shed their leaves in January as they are putting out new ones), but close enough, the live oak lends a timeless, stately quality to any setting. Several cultivars (‘High Rise,’ ‘Cathedral’) have a narrower habit and fit better in our city lots.

Red Oak

Red Oak

(Quercus shumardii)
The best oak for scarlet fall color here in North Texas. This pyramidal-shaped tree grows relatively quickly when young, slowing with age and topping out at around 90 feet tall. A good red oak can shade your whole house and reduce your electric bill substantially in the summer. If you have one, take good care of it; construction activity often kills them. Be sure to get a red oak with ascending branches; a lot of pin oak genes are lurking out there which will produce a tree that dies in 5-10 years. With oak wilt and the finickiness of red oaks, you might want to consider one of the many other oaks that do well here.

Lacey Elm

Lacey Elm

(Quercus laceyi)
A smaller oak, often multi-stemmed or even shrubby, this oak has smallish blue-green leaves and beautiful peachy new growth and fall color. A good choice for a smaller space where a big oak would take over. This is a stunning tree.

Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle

(Lagerstroemia)
Where would we be in August without the sturdy crape myrtle? Flowering in all shades of white, pink, lavender and watermelon, crape myrtles peak just when the rest of the garden is flagging. Some varieties have good fall color and lovely exfoliating bark for winter interest as well. They need full sun to avoid getting spindly and mildewy; some easily grow 20’-25’ tall so plan ahead.

Lacebark Elm

Lacebark Elm

(Ulmus parviflora)
A medium sized tree, 40’-50’, with a round or oval crown, the lacebark elm has beautiful exfoliating bark and casts light, dappled shade. Drought-tolerant and tough, it makes a good street or shade tree; does need some staking to keep it straight while it gets established. Check out this handsome row of lacebark elms along Preston Road in front of St. Mark’s School.

Cedar Elm

Cedar Elm

(Ulmus crassifolia)
The hallmark of the native cedar elm is its small, sandpapery leaves and furrowed bark. Growing to 75′ feet tall, the cedar elm can tolerate compacted and poorly drained soils better than most trees and is very drought-tolerant. Glossy green leaves in the spring and beautiful golden fall color make this elm a great addition to the landscape, either as a single specimen or in groves.

Arizona Cypress

Arizona Cypress

(Cupressus arizonica)
Native to Mexico and the Southwest, Arizona cypress is a fast-growing, spectacular blue-green tree that is great for screening, windbreaks and pool areas. Its foliage is fragrant when brushed against and the small round cones are attractive without making a mess. Beautiful combined with other low water use plants such as rosemary, China roses, blackfoot daisy and native salvias. Or use it to provide textural contrast to strongly architectural plants like agaves and yuccas. Needs good drainage.

Vitex

Vitex

(Vitex agnus-castus)
Sometimes called ‘Texas summer lilac,’ the lacy-leaved vitex is covered with pointy purple panicles from midsummer into fall, providing nectar to hosts of butterflies and bees. Can be left shrubby or pruned into a small tree (there’s a row in front of the Nasher Sculpture Center). Deadheading will stimulate more blooms, although the dried berries are interesting on the bare branches in the winter. Extract from vitex is used widely in Germany to regulate problems associated with menopause, PMS and post-partum hormonal issues. Leaves are sometimes mistaken for marijuana so look out for your neighborhood watch.

Waxmyrtle

Waxmyrtle

(Myrica cerifera)
Evergreen shrub or small tree with long, fragrant foliage and small bluish-grey berries formerly used for candles. Does great in wet areas and sandy soils; will tolerate poor drainage but is not particularly drought tolerant. For a denser hedge, keep leggy growth trimmed. Some people swear it keeps mosquitoes away from patios and pool areas.

Texas Mountainlaurel

Texas Mountainlaurel

(Sophora Secundiflora)
Native to Texas, this slow growing evergreen tree is very tough and extremely drought tolerant. Texas Mountain Laurel is very dynamic as it can be trained to be a medium to large shrub or as shown above a small to medium ornamental tree. It has lavender blooms in the spring that are very fragrant.
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Chinese Pistachio

Chinese Pistachio

(Pistachia Chinensis)
A deciduous moderate sized tree that loves the sun. It will grow to 30 to 35 feet tall and produce a spectacular canopy of fall color.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate

(Punica granatum)
One of the few fruit trees that really loves it here, pomegranates have showy red-orange blossoms in the summer. If you have room for the standard tree (it can grow to 25 feet over time), you will get larger fruits. ‘Nana,’ the dwarf variety, has delicate lance-shaped foliage and a neater habit, but fruit is smaller. Another option is to make juice, which is full of antioxidants, tannins and vitamins B and C. Research shows pomegranate juice can slow or reverse plaque formation in the arteries and may prevent recurrence of prostrate cancer. A tough and ornamental tree even if you aren’t interested in the harvest, pomegranates should be used more often here.

Chocolate Mimosa

Chocolate Mimosa

(Albrizia julibrissin ‘Summer Chocolate’)
A dark burgundy leaf on this mimosa makes an interesting accent in the summer garden. Likes poor dry soil, don’t baby it with too much water or fertilizer! Flowers are fragrant and attract bees; new leaves are greenish but turn maroon as they mature.

Mexican Plum

Mexican Plum

(Prunus mexicana)
Wonderful fragrant white flowers cover the branches before the leaves emerge in early spring. Native to escarpments and woodlands all around us, Mexican plum is what you should plant if you’re an Easterner pining for dogwoods in the spring. Great orangey-yellow fall color and beautiful, multi-colored bark as fine as any cherry tree. Grows in full sun to part shade and has to be well-drained; other than that it’s carefree. Small fruits are good for preserves, but a bit tart for eating out of hand.

Loquat

Loquat

(Eriobotrya japonica)
The perfect plant for you if you’re looking for a lush, tropical-looking evergreen. Large, crinkly leaves reflect light and densely cover this medium-sized ornamental tree. Fragrant white flowers bloom in late fall, developing into edible soft yellow fruits in mid-spring. Can be espaliered along a wall, grown as a specimen or massed for a wonderful dense screen.

Japanese Maple “Oshio Beni”

Japanese Maple “Oshio Beni”

(Acer palmatum ssp. ameoemum ‘Oshio beni’)
Orange-red new growth in spring, followed by bronzy reddish-green in summer and scarlet fall color. This maple has a larger leaves and samaras than other Acer palmatum varieties, and the leaves are not as deeply divided.

Coralbark Japanese Maple

Coralbark Japanese Maple

(Acer palmatum ‘Sangokaku’)
Brilliant red stems of younger branches brighten the winter landscape, even after the leaves fall. This Japanese maple will tolerate more sun than most in Dallas, and grows about 15’ tall and wide. Light green leaves with a red margin give way to golden fall color.

Savannah Holly

Savannah Holly

(Ilex x attenuata ‘Savannah’)
A large shrub or small tree, this beautiful dark green holly is a staple of the landscape here. Can be grown full to the ground for a dense screen, or limbed up five or six feet with a single trunk to allow plantings underneath. Makes a great privacy screen around pools since it does not drop a lot of debris. The most reliable holly we’ve grown here if the soil is not too alkaline. If the leaves yellow, it may need an iron supplement and soil acidifier.

Possumhaw Holly

Possumhaw Holly

(Ilex decidua)
Similar in size and form to its evergreen cousin, the yaupon, possumhaw hollies are grown primarily for their winter show of bright orange-red berries which persist until early spring. Will grow in sun or light shade, although berries are most plentiful in full sun. Be sure you’re getting mostly female plants; a male is needed for pollination but will not set fruit.

Golden Rain Tree

Golden Rain Tree

(Koelreuteria paniculata)
A fast-growing tree that has a nice rounded form and lacy foliage casting light shade, golden rain tree is named for the large panicles of yellow flowers covering it in the fall. Flowers are followed by papery seed pods that look like little Chinese lanterns. A good choice for a smaller yard or a place where you want filtered light.

Dogwood

Dogwood

(Cornus florida)
It’s happier in regions with more acidic water and soil, but people love to plant this dogwood nonetheless. Horizontal layered branches hold out four-petaled white flowers in the spring before the leaves come out. Fall color is reliable reds and golds, and red berries add winter interest. Needs good bed prep (like an azalea), plenty of water and shade. A remnant population resides in Dogwood Canyon, an Audubon-managed retreat near the Cedar Hill escarpment which only opens for special spring viewings. (Note: C. drummondii, the roughleaf dogwood, does grow well here. It is shrubbier, suckers around a bit, and blooms with rounded white cyme after the leaves are out. Great for stream banks and natural areas; a bit scruffy for most city people.)

Desert Willow

Desert Willow

(Chilopsis linearis)
The desert willow is a beautiful small tree native to west Texas. It has long, thin leaves like a willow, and fragrant pink, lavender or white flowers at the ends of the branches all summer. Best planted in gravelly soil in raised beds here, with expanded shale or gravel mulch–it is used to less rainfall and will decline if it stays too wet. Perfect for low-water use landscapes where the irrigation can be fine-tuned. Prune often to shape trunks and encourage bloom.

Strawberry Tree

Strawberry Tree

(Arbutus unedo)
A native of Ireland and the Mediterranean that likes it here, oddly enough, the strawberry tree has something interesting for every season. Little urn-shaped flowers appear from October to December, maturing into 1″ knobby orangey-red fruits. Leathery dark green leaves resist drought and bugs, and the cinnamon-colored bark peels in beautiful layers. In Portugal they make a wine called medhronho out of the fruit. A lovely small tree, arbutus makes a handsome focal point in the garden.

Rose of Sharon Althea

Rose of Sharon Althea

(Hibiscus syriacus)
A large woody shrub with big, showy blossoms of white, pink, and red from mid summer into fall, the Rose of Sharon may be an old-lady or trailer-park plant, but we like it anyway. Hummingbirds do too. Blooms equally well in sun or shade, making it a nice change from the ubiquitous crape myrtle. It loves hot weather but loses its leaves in winter and is late to leaf out in the spring, so be prepared to look at sticks for some part of every year. Naturally vase-shaped but may be trimmed into a small tree or formed into a hedge; blooms better with some annual pruning.

Globe Amaranth

Globe Amaranth

(Gomphrena globosa)
This annual needs full sun. The blooms are white to tan and more colorful dark pink to rose that bloom mid summer to early fall.

Angelonia

Angelonia

(Angelonia angustifolia)
A tough plant well suited for hot sunny spaces. Blooms all summer long in shades of white, pink, or purple. Will grow to be 1 to 2 ft tall.

Fan Flower

Fan Flower

(Scaevola Aemula)
Another Drought Tolerant evergreen Shrub that when planted in Dallas will be used as an annual do it sensitivity to frost. Pretty Shades of Blue and Pink are sure to brighten up your yard. Also, a nice plant for pots as it has a semi trailing growth habit.

Diamond Frost

Diamond Frost

(Euphorbia Graminea)
Although this plant will not provide bright colors to your garden. This heat and drought tolerant annual will provide a steady backdrop of white flowers all through the season.

Penta

Penta

(Penta Lanceolata)
This plant is considered an annual when planted in Dallas. It has a large variety of colors and will provide clusters of star shaped blooms all summer long even in the hot Texas sun. Will attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds

Star Jasmine

Star Jasmine

(Trachelospermum jasminiodes)
Very fragrant white flowers in spring on a dense evergreen vine. Will climb into trees or over structures, takes bright shade or full sun. Works well in formal estates as welll as cottage gardens. ‘Madison’ is the hardiest variety for this area; needs only a little bit of protection from cold and support to twine on. Fairly drought tolerant once established.

Passionvine

Passionvine

(Passiflora incarnata)
The native purple passionvine can be encountered sprawling across fallow fields and open areas all around us. You’ll know when it’s blooming by the crowds of butterflies hovering over it. Also known as ‘maypop’ because of the noise the edible, egg-sized orange fruit makes. Tea made from leaves is said to soothe nerves and help you sleep; Native Americans used the plant for cuts and bruises.

Fig Ivy

Fig Ivy

(Ficus pumila)
Tiny leaves and stems cover ugly walls and fences with a layer of evergreen velvet. Useful as background for specimen plants and to hide irregularities in walls. Can take over an area in time.

Evergreen Wisteria

Evergreen Wisteria

(Millettia reticula)
Not really a wisteria, but sure looks like it—without being so rambunctious. Reddish-purple pea-like blooms in 6”-8” clusters perfume the air all summer and into the fall, once it is established. Needs full to partial sun and good drainage, as well as some support to climb on. (Photo: David MacManus)

Boston Ivy

Boston Ivy

(Parthenocissus tricuspidata)
From Asia despite its name, Boston ivy climbs fences, sheds, and walls with little suckering feet, which will not grow into mortar joints and damage them like English ivy will. Also makes a fine woodland groundcover; can have spectacular fall color in a good year. The variety ‘Loweii’ has a smaller, more refined leaf. This vine is deciduous but the tracery of stems on a wall can be attractive even in winter.

Sweet Autumn Clemantis

Sweet Autumn Clemantis

(Clematis Terniflora)
A deciduous vine with dark green leaves and beautiful white, fragrant, star-shaped flowers. This vine needs full sun and is fast growing and very aggressive.

Oleander

Oleander

(Nerium oleander)
White, pink, red or pale yellow flowers cover this evergreen shrub all summer. Long, narrow leaves make a nice textural contrast to other evergreens. Its fast growth rate lets you shape it as a large shrub or even a small tree; a few dwarf varieties exist as well. One caveat: all parts of the plant are very poisonous, so don’t plant it where small children, dogs or horses might eat it. (The upside is that deer won’t eat it either). (Photo: Jack Scheper/Floridata)

Nandina “Royal Princess”

Nandina “Royal Princess”

(Nandina domestica ‘Royal Princess’)
Pinkish flowers, clean lacy foliage and a heavy berry crop set this nandina apart from the common variety. Bright red fall color is a plus, may be bronzy or purple in winter as well. Grow anywhere, it’s not picky. Nandinas have a bad reputation because they’re so often badly pruned. Reduce their height if needed by removing 1/3 of the canes at the ground level every year.

Elaeagnus

Elaeagnus

(Elaeagnus ebbengei)
Thick, grey-green leaves with silver undersides, quite graceful when it has plenty of room to grow but ugly when badly sheared (hence the nickname, Ugly Agnes). Planted mostly for the wonderful fragrance of its tiny white flowers in fall and winter–they are almost invisible, but can perfume a whole neighborhood. Very tough–used on highway medians–and drought-resistant evergreen shrub, grows 10′-12′ high and wide so plan accordingly (or espalier). Needs good drainage or even big limbs suddenly die off.

Grey Cotoneaster

Grey Cotoneaster

(Cotoneaster glaucophyllus)
Medium-sized dense evergreen shrub with small, grey leaves, cymes of white flowers in spring followed by orangey-red berries in the fall that last all winter. Great with silver and grey-leaved native perennials, fairly low-water use plant.

Parney’s Cotoneaster

Parney’s Cotoneaster

(Cotoneaster parneyi)
This tall, arching shrub makes a great addition to a perennial border or mixed evergreen hedge. Large scarlet berries are very ornamental all winter long. Grows quickly to 6′-8′ tall; prune lightly only to shape so as not to spoil the natural form. Drought tolerant. Photo courtesy Sierra Vista Growers.

Boxwood

Boxwood

(Buxus macrophylla)
Surprisingly drought-tolerant for a plant we associate with England, boxwood actually prefers our alkaline soil and water. Has to have excellent drainage or it will decline. Many options in size and leaf let you pick the right one for your space and enjoy its natural density and softness. Can be pruned to a 6” tall hedge or left natural for a 10’ tall screening border.

Beautyberry, American

Beautyberry, American

(Callicarpa americana)
Big, bold coarse-textured leaves on a large, gracefully arching shrub make this a highlight of a shady border. Clusters of big fuchsia berries along the bare branches add drama to the winter garden, as well. Beautyberry makes a great contrast to the smaller-leaved native coralberry, with its small but equally bright magenta berries. Can get up to 5’ tall and wide; soil should not dry out completely. Native to lowlands, creek margins and swamps across the south.

Turk’s Cap

Turk’s Cap

(Malaviscus drummondii)
An indestructible native plant with big bold texture for semi-shady locations or even full sun. Red-orange or pink turban-shaped flowers seem most prolific in the worst heat, when everything else in the garden has fainted. Hummingbirds, bees and fruit-eating mammals love the nectar and fruits (you can eat them, too, if you’re inclined). If you’ve got a black thumb, this is your perennial.

Mexican Sage Bush

Mexican Sage Bush

(Salvia leucantha)
Long spikes of purple and white make a massive display in the early fall garden. ‘Santa Barbara’ is a more dwarf form which will get 24”-30” tall and stays more compact than the straight species. Typical grey-green fuzzy sage leaf arrayed on tough woody stems, which should be cut back in winter.

Bamboo “Robert Young”

Bamboo “Robert Young”

(Phyllostachys viridis)
Described by his Austin growers as ‘tall, yellow and handsome,’ Robert Young bamboo gets up to 45’ tall and only a few feet wide—perfect for those skinny Park Cities lots where your neighbors are Right There. Distinctive yellow trunks glow on a gloomy day. But use protection against this robust grower or face the consequences—we suggest a nice concrete-filled trench all around. Regular breaking off of the invasive shoots a couple of times a year is also manageable.

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed

(Eupatorium purpureum)
Gorgeous pinkish to purplish flowers in a large domed inflorescence draw butterflies by the dozens to your garden in July and August into September if you cut off the spent blooms. Can get from four to seven feet, so put it in the back of the border. A smaller version, ‘Gateway,’ runs around 3 ½’ to 4’ tall. Long, coarse, dark green leaves grow in a whorl around the stems. Likes even moisture and full sun. Various related species native all over the eastern half of the U.S., co-evolved with numerous butterfly species.

Spider Lily

Spider Lily

(Hymenocallis)
Exotic looking but native to Southern swamps, these fragrant white lilies bloom on and off for a month in May and June. Large strap-like leaves create a lush tropical effect all summer through frost. Great when combined with crinums and lycoris, which have different bloom times but similar foliage. (Photo: Univ of GA School of Ecology)

Autumn Sage

Autumn Sage

(Salvia greggii)
A staple of North Texas gardens, beloved for its long bloom season and attractiveness to hummingbirds. Autumn sage is a small woody native shrub that likes rocky soil, but will grow well in the garden with judicious pruning, good drainage and not too much water. Comes in coral, pink, red, white and purple. Usually has one big flush of spring bloom; prune hard after that and you’ll get light blooms through the summer and the best display of the year in the fall.

Jerusalem Sage

Jerusalem Sage

(Phlomis russeliana)
Jerusalem sage has large (up to 7″) fuzzy leaves and a vigorous, upright growth habit that lends architectural heft and prevents your perennial border from mushing together texturally. Sturdy stems with whorls of butter-colored flowers bloom June through September. Likes sun, any soil and not too much water.

Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder

(Polemonium caeruleum)
A pretty perennial that likes a wet and shady spot. Blue/purple to white bell-shaped flowers hover on stalks above compound, almost ferny leaves.

Iris

Iris

(Iris germanica)
A classic old-time ‘pass-along’ plant, we love the big showy flowers of bearded iris even if the season is short. They make up for it with sturdy, evergreen sword-shaped foliage that provides a good foil to fuzzier plants in the border. Fragrant and romantic, they will multiply in full sun or very light shade and last for years. Don’t cover the rhizomes with soil or mulch; when planted too deeply they will make leaves but not bloom. Prefer drier soils. Some varieties are alleged to re-bloom in the fall; although we haven’t seen consistent results ourselves, we keep hoping!

Indigofera

Indigofera

(Indigofera kirilowii)
A dense, suckering, deciduous shrub which typically grows 2-3′ tall. Blooms small pink flowers in June and July and will sometimes continue sparingly through September.

Hoya Santa

Hoya Santa

(Piper auritum, Root Beer plant)
Large, velvety leaves on stalks that can reach 4’-5’ tall make a bold statement in a shady planting. An aromatic tropical herb, the leaves of hoya santa are used to wrap fish or meats for steaming; Paula Lambert also wraps goat cheese in the leaves to impart the slightly licorice/root beer flavor to the cheese. Dies back in the winter but returns reliably each year.

Columbine, Hinckley’s

Columbine, Hinckley’s

(Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana)
Native to Big Bend but grows well here. This columbine is tall, sturdy and usually evergreen, with large yellow cockspur-shaped flowers in March and April. A short-lived perennial, it will reseed and hybridize with other columbines if planted close to them. Needs shade and regular moisture, prefers acidic soil.

Hellebores, Lenten Rose

Hellebores, Lenten Rose

(Helleborus orientalis, Helleborus hybridus)
A fantastic evergreen perennial that blooms in midwinter–hence the names Christmas rose or Lenten rose. Hellebores, unlike many shade-loving perennials, don’t mind our alkaline soil and water and are quite drought-tolerant once they get going. Flowers come in shades of white, pink, dark maroon, red and various spots; there are even several green-flowered types if that is your taste. Native to Europe, where they have naturalized in ruins of old monasteries and herb gardens.

Ginger, Variegated

Ginger, Variegated

(Alpinia zerumbet)
Needs a little babying—plenty of moisture and good organic soil—but variegated ginger will reward you with big splashes of cream and gold variegation in a shady border. Although the light pink flowers are not fragrant like other gingers, the foliage gives off a sweet scent when crushed.

Dianthus

Dianthus

(Dianthus)
With its neat mounds of blue-green spiky foliage and crisp pink flowers, dianthus makes a great front-of-the-border plant. Needs excellent drainage–it does well in decomposed granite and gravel–and full sun. ‘Bath’s Pink’ and ‘Firewitch’ are the most reliable here; they do best with drip irrigation rather than overhead watering.

Blackfoot Daisy

Blackfoot Daisy

(Melampodium leucanthum)
Little white daisies on a 6″-12″ evergreen mounding plant look great spilling over walls or filling in the front of a border. Native from Colorado south into Texas and Mexico, the blackfoot daisy needs good drainage, sun and not too much water–wonderful combined with autumn sage, rock roses and ornamental grasses. Mow it to 4 or 5 inches in late winter to encourage denser growth.

Aspidistra, Cast-Iron Plant

Aspidistra, Cast-Iron Plant

(Aspidistra eliator)
This was a favorite potted plant in Victorian parlors—partly because you can’t kill it—but we can grow it outdoors here, in the darkest nooks where nothing else will thrive. Tall shiny leaves reflect light and add interesting texture in the shade. Cut off damaged leaves as needed. (Photo: Redwood Barn Nursery)

Acanthus, Bear’s Breeches

Acanthus, Bear’s Breeches

(Acanthus mollis)
The deeply divided, spiny leaves and tall white flower spikes of this Mediterranean native make an architectural statement in the garden. In fact, acanthus is the plant you see carved on the Corinthian capitals of Greek and Roman buildings. Touchy about temperature—may flop in the hottest part of the summer and freeze below 15 degrees—so if you must have a perfect plant all year, this one’s not for you. Comes back strongly in the temperate seasons though, and stunning enough to make it worth the trouble.

Inland Sea Oats

Inland Sea Oats

(Chasmanthium latifolium)
One of the few native grasses that loves the shade. Inland sea oats has a beautiful flat wheat-like inflorescence in the late summer, turning straw colored in the fall and persisting through the winter. Grows about 3′ tall and will seed around to fill an area; don’t water or put it in rich soil unless you want a lot of it. Rustles in the breeze, making you feel cooler in the summer.

Muhly, Gulf Coast

Muhly, Gulf Coast

(Muehlenbergia capillaris)
A fine-textured, blue-green native clumping grass that bursts into cotton-candy pink blooms in the fall. It looks like a pink cloud waving in the breeze. Fabulous with pink Gregg salvia or as a textural contrast to other blue-green plants like agaves, Arizona cypress or Texas sage. Grows to 2-1/2 feet tall plus the inflorescence. Very drought tolerant.

Berkeley Sedge

Berkeley Sedge

(Carex tumulicola)
This fine-bladed sedge is native to California but does very well here. Growing in a clump up to 18″ wide and 12″ tall, Berkeley sedge is a welcome change from mondo borders and takes a lot less water to be happy. Recommended by Dr. Barron Rector, extension Range Specialist at Texas A&M, as one of the best sedges for garden use here. While not a true “grass,” it does have grass-like qualities.

Skullcap, Pink

Skullcap, Pink

(Scutellaria suffrutescens)
Shrubby and indestructible, this evergreen native perennial is a great edging for the front of the border. It has the same tiny leaves and shrubby form as a germander, but grows much better here. Tiny hot-pink tubular flowers appear all summer; if you shear it after the first big bloom it will be denser and bloom more later. Loves full sun and needs almost no water; not picky about soil.

Red Carpet Sedum

Red Carpet Sedum

(Sedum spurium ‘Red Carpet’)
Acts as a good groundcover, due to its low, sprawling growth. This red-leaved sedum remains attractive throughout the growing season, and its leaves turns deep burgundy in the fall and winter.

Creeping Thyme

Creeping Thyme

(Thymus serpyllum ‘Elfin’)
Who ever has enough thyme? Tiny little woolly leaves make a dense mat of green on this variety, which grows less than half an inch tall. Great for filling in little spaces between rocks; just needs good drainage and some moisture. Too short to use for cooking (there are lots of other options for that, like lemon or silver edge thyme).

thyme-elfin-wm

Ajuga, Bungleweed

Ajuga, Bungleweed

(Ajuga reptans)
A very low-growing groundcover with bronzy-green to purple foliage and tiny blue or rosy trumpet-shaped flowers in mid-spring. Forms a dense mat in damp areas under trees–a nice alternative to the ubiquitous Asian jasmine. Can take some drought once it’s been established for a while.

Caramel Coral Bells

Caramel Coral Bells

(Heuchera villosa ‘Caramel’)
This plant has bright leaves that mature to a caramel-gold color throughout the season. It creates a great element of warmth and contrast to woodland plants and potted arrangements. Works well in the high Texas heat and humidity.

Fig Ivy

Fig Ivy

(Ficus pumila)
Tiny leaves and stems cover ugly walls and fences with a layer of evergreen velvet. Useful as background for specimen plants and hiding irregularities in walls. Can take over an area in time.

Dwarf Bamboo

Dwarf Bamboo

(Pleiblastus distichus “Mini”)
Smallest bamboo available, growing to just 1 foot tall with deep green 1″ wide foliage. Will spread to cover an area in full to light shade; good alternative to turf in dark shade where grass won’t grow, but confine it with a good barrier to keep it where you want it.

Creeping Charley

Creeping Charley

(Glechoma hederacea)
A little round leaf on a persistent groundcover. Creeping Charley came to America with Germans who used it to clarify their beer, and it’s happy here. Don’t bother trying to get rid of it in your lawn—it gives off a wonderful scent when mowed and can be used to treat chronic sinus problems.

Water Clover

Water Clover

(Marsilia macropoda)
Best plant for those bar ditches and soggy places where most plants rot. Mostly evergreen, water clover produces spores so it is more of a fern than a clover. Adapts to dry land in shadier spots. Gets 6″ to 1′ tall and will spread wherever it is happy; trim back if it looks tatty.

Rain Lily, Fairy Lily

Rain Lily, Fairy Lily

(Zephyranthes candida)
The soft round foliage of the rain lily makes a wonderful groundcover under light shade. A bulb in the onion family, it will sit quietly in the garden until a mid- or late-summer storm energizes it. Then it will be covered in little short-stemmed white lilies, sometimes for weeks afterwards. There’s a good stand at the Arboretum (pictured here); it can also be planted out in an unmown lawn area just like crocus. Unlike some things (begonias?), more is better.

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