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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - January 25, 2012

From: Spring, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Drought Tolerant, Shrubs, Trees, Wildflowers
Title: Drought resistant flowering plants for Spring, TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi Mr. Smarty Pants. I live in Spring Tx. and wanted to plant a garden in my front yard. I'm looking for flowering plants that are colorful, easy to manage, and drought resistant but so far can't find any that have all the qualities listed above. Can you help me?

ANSWER:

Please take advantage of our Texas-East Recommended list (since Spring is in Harris County in that region) to look for plants that fit your criteria.  That list contains 133 native plants that are commercially available for landscaping in your area.   You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to choose various criteria, e.g., General Appearance, Light Requirement, Soil Moisture, etc., to customize your search.  For instance, if you NARROW YOUR SEARCH by choosing "Herb" from General Appearance and "Dry" from Soil Moisture, you will narrow the list to 26 choices.   All these wildflower species are listed as growing in dry soil; however, not all the species have an entry for Drought Tolerance under the Growing Conditions category. The following ones, though, are listed as having "High" drought tolerance:

Achillea millefolium (Common yarrow)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) which is listed under "Growing Conditions" as having "High" drought tolerance.

Echinacea pallida (Pale purple coneflower)

Liatris pycnostachya (Prairie blazing star)

Ratibida columnifera (Mexican hat)

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan)

If you do a similar search using "Shrub" under General Appearance, none of the resulting species has a Drought Tolerance entry to tell us whether it is high, medium or low; but they all will grow in dry soil.  Here are several from that are colorful and easy to grow:

Erythrina herbacea (Coralbean)

Lantana urticoides (Texas lantana)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (Turk's cap or turkscap)

Rhus glabra (Smooth sumac) with dark red fruit and beautiful red/orange fall foliage

Using "Tree" as a search element gives you:

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud) listed as "Medium, High" for drought tolerance

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) is listed under Conditions Comments as being drought tolerant.  The female plants produce bright red berries that persist over the winter and attract birds.

 

From the Image Gallery


Common yarrow
Achillea millefolium

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Pale purple coneflower
Echinacea pallida

Prairie blazing star
Liatris pycnostachya

Mexican hat
Ratibida columnifera

Coralbean
Erythrina herbacea

Texas lantana
Lantana urticoides

Turk's cap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

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