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Friday - April 03, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Native plants for full sun in Austin
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe


I am looking for a tough, native TX plant to put in full sun location between the sidewalk and street. I would love for it to flower all summer. There is some irrigation but not much. I don't want the plants to get too tall and block visibility for driving out the driveway. Any suggestions?


Here is a list of some plants that are either evergreen or at least have a green leafy rosette through the winter. Most of these plants are quite xeric - several require well-drained sites, and would not be good choices for periodically soggy sites.

The first four are herbaceous and low-growing. Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa (stemmy four-nerve daisy), will bloom right on through the winter. Engelmannia peristenia (Engelmann's daisy) has a long spring-into-summer bloom period. Chrysactinia mexicana (damianita)  has a lovely spring bloom and then lesser flowering throughout the summer. Penstemon triflorus (Heller's beardtongue), Hill Country Penstemon, has only one intense bloom in the spring, but is so striking that I included it as a possible accent plant.

The next plants are low-growing shrubs and succulents. Viguiera stenoloba (resinbush), or Skeleton-leaf Goldeneye, forms a dense clump and blooms in series all season long. Periodic shearing promotes a denser, "landscape" look. This plant spreads out by root runners to fill available space. Salvia greggii (autumn sage) is a perennial (!) favorite. It blooms several times a year. It also profits from being pruned back about one-third after it has bloomed intensely. Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista) only blooms once a year in the spring - a very interesting bloom stalk, but makes a good green foundation plant and requires little maintenance. Red yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca), has long-lasting blooms and also requires little maintenance, but might grow a little too tall for your location.

One other suggestion — though you requested flowering plants, you might consider some of our native grasses, which have their own grace and beauty, and can provide very durable landscaping in tough spots. A couple of suggestions are also included below. Occasional "combing" to remove dead and matted material keeps them presentable and healthy.

To do some research of your own, try going to our Native Plant Database and in the Explore Plants header, select Recommended Species. Click on your area of the map, then manipulate the parameters to match your needs.

Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa (stemmy four-nerve daisy) 

Chrysactinia mexicana (damianita) 

Engelmannia peristenia (Engelmann's daisy)

Penstemon triflorus (Heller's beardtongue)


Viguiera stenoloba (resinbush) 

Salvia greggii (autumn sage)

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista)

Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca)


Muhlenbergia reverchonii (seep muhly)

Nassella tenuissima (finestem needlegrass) Mexican Feather or Wire Grass - spreads very readily by seed


Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa

Chrysactinia mexicana

Engelmannia peristenia

Penstemon triflorus

Viguiera stenoloba

Salvia greggii

Nolina texana

Hesperaloe parviflora

Muhlenbergia reverchonii

Nassella tenuissima






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