Flowers for Central Texas
The secret to successful flower gardening in Texas lies in knowing two facts: What flowers to grow here, and Where to plant them. Once you have answered these questions, you will be able to have beautiful flower gardens here. Thanks to our mild climate, we can have flowers in bloom all year long. Below is a list of flowers for Central Texas, along with the cultural requirements and the planting times.
Lantana: The picture here shows a yellow flowering Lantana. This hardy, drought tolerant plant comes in several lovely colors. The plant gets quite large; the one in the photo is about four feet wide. It grows rapidly, reaching several feet in the first season. Plant in the spring, once danger of frost is past. Make sure the plant has full sun and good drainage. Since this flowering plant will live for many years, be sure to prepare the soil well prior to planting--you won't get another chance. Work in a fair amount of humus (we prefer to use chopped rotted leaves). You do not have to fertilize this plant at all to have success, but once or twice a year with an organic general purpose fertilizer will be appreciated. Water only when it gets dry.
Alyssum: Alyssum (the white flowers in this photo) is a great flower for Texas. It comes in several pastel colors and is supposed to be an annual. However, once it is established, it will reseed and come back year after year. Alyssum smells great too. Water it when it wilts; this is not a particularly drought tolerant plant. Plant it in full sun or let it have a little afternoon shade. Alyssum can take some cooler weather also. Replant it in the fall and you may have it all winter. It is at its best in the Springtime.
Nierembergia: This lesser-known plant is pictured on the right in the above photo. It is a good companion to allysum. It does the best in cooler weather, so plant it in the fall and again in the spring. It is a perennial and will return again each year.
Ruellia: Ruellia is a wonderful plant that not too many people know about. Ruellia is sometimes called Mexican Petunia. It is a very tough and drought tolerant perennial. It has spikey leaves and bluish lavender or pink flowers, depending on the variety. We like to use ruellia as a border around our flower beds. It is a very invasive plant, popping up all over the place, but that just makes it good for filling out empty spots, as it transplants easily. Ruellia should be planted in the fall or spring, and will bloom in mid to late summer and on into fall. There is also a tall variety, growing to about two feet. Ruellia must have adequate moisture in order not to wilt. Water it often in the hottest part of the year for best results.
Salvia: Salvias are a large group of flowering plants. There are many colors, sizes, and varieties. Whole books have been written just on salvias. The best salvias for Texas are the Gregii types. They are about four feet tall and wide when mature and bloom much of the year. They are drought tolerant and problem free. Salvias make up a large part of our gardens, due to their great performance and beauty. No Central Texas garden should be without them!
Roses: No garden would be complete without some rose bushes. However, roses don't like to get thirsty, hot, or to have their leaves stay wet. They are attacked by insects and disease frequently. The best roses for Texas are the Old Fashioned roses rather than the tea roses. These varieties just seem to hold up better under our unfavorable conditions. Prepare rose beds with plenty of compost and organic fertilizer. When watering roses, try never to get the leaves wet. Spray them regularly with Garrett Juice (available at organic nurseries), and with organic fungicides. Consult your organic nursery for their recommendations. You will need help to keep these spoiled and tempermental ladies happy.
Dianthus: These do well in the cooler months of the year. Sometimes they will come back if you have a mild winter. Plant in full sun in the fall or in early spring.
Columbine: This is a shade-loving plant that will spread freely year after year. It also has interesting-looking leaves. The native has yellow flowers.