Shrubs for Central Texas
Hollies: There are many good varieties of hollies for Central Texas. Some are small trees, some are large shrubs, and some are small shrubs as you see in this picture, the Dwarf Yaupon Holly. You will need to decide what purpose for which you wish to use your holly, in order to pick the right variety. This group is one of the very best for our area. They are all tough and beautiful. Some have red berries, such as the Possumhaw holly, which losses its leaves in the winter, leaving its branches filled with pretty red berries all winter. Some keep their leaves all year round. They come in various leaf shapes and sizes. Only the females have berries, so try to find a plant that has berries on it when you buy it to be sure of what you are getting. Most hollies can take either full sun or even a lot of shade. They are very drought tolerant. Hollies' scientific name is Ilex. Consult a good gardening book for the many types available to make the right choice, but be sure to include several of these in your landscape; you will not be sorry.
Artemisia: This is an herb, but it grows so large it needs to be classified as a shrub. Since it grows large in just one season, it is a great plant to use for quick shrubs wherever you need one. Just break off a foot or so stem and plant part of it in the dirt where you want a new one to grow. Keep it moist for a week or two, and it will grow new roots. Before the end of the summer, you will have another large shrub and can repeat the process. Nothing bothers this plant, neither bug nor disease. You may need to cut it back so it does not take over the whole bed. Plant in full sun to part shade and water occasionally.
Aralia: This tropical looking shrub is really hardy here in Texas. It needs plenty of shade and moderate watering.
Texas Sage: This wonderful large shrub is gray with lavendar flowers that cover it sporatically from mid-summer until late fall. It is a very drought tolerant shrub for hot, dry, well-drained soil with plenty of sun. Great for our climate; don't overwater.
Chinese Photinia: This large shrub can be trimmed up into a small decorative tree. These often grow wild in Texas; that shows how tough they are. They will bloom in the spring with large white blooms, followed by berries which Cedar Waxwings love to eat. If they don't discover them, the berries will be a pretty winter accent to the garden. Plant anywhere and lives on neglect.
Nandina: Nandinas also will grow in the wild here. They are beautiful shrubs with red berries and pretty leaves. They come in several sizes; the larger ones are the best in appearance. It would be hard to kill this plant. Nandina likes some shade to be its best, but it will grow anywhere, with very little care or water. The picture shows snow on nandinas in January.
Abelia: This is a graceful large shrub with arching branches and small white blooms throughout the year (whenever the shrub feels like it). It gets quite large and should not be trimmed into a hedge; that would ruin its form. Just trim to keep it from getting too large. Full sun, moderate water.
Althaea: This is a large shrub or small tree that takes full sun or part shade and has large tropical bloomss that look like hybiscus blooms. A truly beautiful shrub.
Crepe Mrytle: What would Central Texas be without the Crepe mrytle? This fantastic large shrub or small tree does need some care though. Don't cut the tops off this shrub; that just mutilates it. Trim lightly in the early winter and then leave it alone. When you water, try very hard not to get water on its leaves. Use a soaker hose and water at ground level. This, along with full sun and adequate air flow will ensure that your shrubs don't get powdery mildew. This shrub is worth the extra trouble as it is covered with blooms for much of the summer.