As a designer it’s my job to know plants and in a world that is short on drinkable water, and it is everyone’s job to create low water solutions in the landscape. Central Texas is loaded with spectacular, super drought tolerant plants, shrubs and trees that are low maintenance and stunning with color for both sun and shade gardens.
So why use only rocks or mulch when you can have a beautiful lush garden loaded with color that attracts wildlife. You can find them if you seek them out but I have simplified some of it for you.
This is my idea of Xeriscape.
Pretty much any variety of sage or salvia, sun or shade loving is drought tolerant and deer repellant, so seek them out for your perennial beds. Perfect for full to part sun, and reseeds readily.
Evergreen Wisteria is an excellent vine for full to part sun. With spectacular blooms, it grows to 30’ and must be trained to a trellis. Best of all there are no tendrils so it doesn’t attach to your house or your family. 😉
Mexican Mint Merigold
This semi-evergreen perennial has edible leaves and flowers. Growing to 3’, it’s a beautiful edible addition to a full sun garden.
Firecracker fern is a hummingbird bird feeder with coral flowers and funky foliage. Great in full to part sun, 2 x 2.5’
Black and Blue Salvia
A deep shade to part sun plant with dark blue to purple flowers bloom all summer long in the shade to part sun garden. Growing to 2 x 2’ and spreading.
Pink Salvia Greggi
Pink Saliva Is popular amongst hummingbirds and makes a statement in the landscape. Evergreen and deer resistant, growing to 3 x 3’.
Thryallis, Golden Shower
Shrubs are an important part of the landscape and this beauty is a great addition. Growing to 4 x 5’ with an abundance of yellow flowers late summer into fall.
Yarrow, Red, Pink or Yellow
Evergreen and medicinal, growing about 2 x 2’ with flowers bouquets all summer long.
Shade plants get a bad wrap for being sensitive, but there are plenty of shade plants that are low water and low maintenance with great impact. Reaching 4 x 4’+, the bright green foliage and texturally interesting flower is a great addition to any shade or part sun garden.
One of my favorite sun to shade plants is the Jerusalem Sage because it’s a beautiful grey/green with a crown of yellow flowers. Evergreen and deer resistant, it’s happy from sun to shade, growing to 3 x 3’+
Mint, Oregano, Basil and Thyme
There are some really great herbs that can take a beating in the Texas sun. Seek them out and enjoy the fragrance and edible qualities. Some mints can take over a bed, so use judiciously.
Rosemary, Trailing or Upright
Edible, deer resistant, evergreen and drought tolerant, enough said.
Blaze Climbing Rose
With blooms all summer, growing to 10 x 10’, this is a great addition to a fence or trellis.
The Peach drift rose
The Drift Rose series is a compact shrub with a bounty of flowers all spring to fall. Semi evergreen and mounding to 3 x 2.5’ish. Sun loving, low maintenance and drought tolerant.
Home Run Rose
While this is hard to find, it’s worth the trouble. A profuse bloomer early spring until the first freeze. Often covered in honey bees, it’s a stunner for you and wildlife.
Rock Rose Pavonia
A beast in the heat, this pink beauty does well from part shade to full sun and it’s a repeat bloomer that opens in the morning and closes at night.
While growing like a weed because it is one, it loves sun to shade and makes a great ground cover averaging 2 x 2’.
Bearded Iris is a very drought tolerant, and little to no maintenance. They prefer sun but can take part shade. Blooms in the spring and keeps foliage over the summer and fall. Semi evergreen.
Althea, Rose of Sharon
Althea or Rose of Sharon is a full sun to part shade shrub that grows to 6-8′ x 3-4′. Large flowers in single or double found in white, pink or lavender.
Mexican Bush Sage
Mexican Bush Sage is a full sun plant that grows to about 4′ tall x 3′ wide. Cut back in the early spring .
Aloe Vera of all kinds are excellent full to part sun, low maintenance flowering plants. They are also an excellent medicinal plant. 2′ 3′
In an abundance of sizes and colors, they are low water and fabulous. Sun loving and low maintenance, 1 x 2’-3 x 3’
Fireman’s Cap Coralbean
Fireman’s Cap / Helmet Coral Bean-Full Sun, Stunning foliage and flowers. super drought tolerant. 10′ x 8′
Yellow Bells Esperanza
Yellow Bells Esperanza is a beautiful deciduous plant that grows best in full sun. 8′ x 6′ Cut back in the spring.
Pride of Barbados
Pride of Barbados is a stunning landscape plant that is ideal for a Xerophytic garden. Full sun. 8′ x 8′. Trim back in the spring.
Desert Willow Tree
Bubba Desert Willow Tree grows to 20′, It has beautiful blooms that are fragrant and prolific with little to no maintenance. Full sun, low water.
Moon Flower Duranta
Datura Moon Flower. Deciduous perennial, evening bloomer, full sun and super low water. 3′ x’ 3
Crepe myrtles are one of the most drought tolerant trees you can plant for beautiful color, fall leaves and interesting bark. Range from 3′ – 30′ in assorted colors. Full sun
Four Nerve Daisy
4 nerve daisy has interesting foliage and sunny yellow flowers. 2′ x 2′, evergreen
Flowering or fruiting pomegranate is a large shrub to small tree. The fruiting variety grows to 12′ and the flowering only (both flower) can grow to 20′. Deciduous, low maintenance.
Ranging in pink, red or white, this full sun to full shade plant is as beautiful as it is versatile.
For ideas on sun to shade plants, shrubs and trees, check out my Facebook page at Lisa’s Landscape & Design. If you live in or near Austin, contact me to talk about a landscape consultation and I can help you find the perfect plants for your space and so much more 😉
I was wondering if you know whether the evergreen wisteria is toxic to humans or animals? I can’t seem to find any proof one way or the other online and I want to make sure my neighbors kids/dog don’t ingest any part of it and get sick (or worse.)
Hi Monica,I have read that parts of the plant (stem and root I believe) are considered to be highly medicinal in China. I found on homesalive.ca that the wisteria vine is one of their top 50 toxic plants for dogs. Great question, you taught me something new.
Ah, great to know – thanks so much! Disregard my duplicate post 🙂 I didn’t realize the first one took.
however, evergreen wisteria is not a true wisteria, so what’s true of wisteria may not be true of evergreen wisteria. Common names can be misleading. As in this case, neither is it evergreen.
Kathryn, what hardiness zone are you in? Mine got morning sun and was evergreen for 7 years until we got a winter of 19 degrees and less for 72 hours.
Have grown these Datura Moon Flower plants for several years in Cedar Park, TX. From my experience they are not very drought tolerant in the heat of the summer, in a large planter or directly in the ground.
But the sphinx moth that often visits (and the fragrance from the blooms) can often make it worth it.
Planting them in part sun seems the best. They bloom around sundown. Their blooms will find and move towards light, the moon or other bright light.
Hi Jim, you’re so right, they certainly can succumb to wilting in severe heat and drought but they do thrive in morning to mid day sun.
While considered drought tolerant and heat resistant, those in all day sun may have issues with mites in the long dry heat, but I’ve found those in the sun will also recover and bloom at night, so it’s worth a try in your space to see how they fair.
Salvia Black and Blue easily outgrows the 2′ x 2′ mentioned above. I have specimens that at the time of writing are 4.5′ x 4.5′. That said, they can be trimmed back. Also, mine will overwinter here in Zone 6 but they die back to the ground every year. I just add about a foot of dead leaves as an insulator every year.
Wow, I’ve not seen that here, but I know they can take over a space if allowed. Adding dead leaves is an excellent winterizer and compost treatment as well as protection from cold. Great job!