Choosing perennials for Central Texas
Sat, 2016-03-05 15:03 News Staff
After living in Central Texas for several years, I was convinced that I would have to continue planting flowering annuals every year, enjoy the colors through spring and summer then accept the fact that everything would be brown by August.
The heat of July and August in our area was more than any pretty plant could take, so I thought. Then I found out about perennials. A perennial is a plant that lives year after year and blooms throughout the growing season each year. Perennials come in a variety of forms: seeds, bulbs and bare root plants. The more I learned about perennials, the more excited I became. I could have pretty plants in my landscape that I would enjoy from spring through fall.
I jotted down the names of a few that I thought would be easy to grow and off I went to the nearest nursery. Armed with my list and my budget in mind, I was amazed at the big selection of perennials that would grow in this area of Texas. As I perused the rows of blooming plants, I found Gregg’s blue mist, Turk’s cap, yarrow and coreopsis. Such interesting foliage and colors! I also found salvia greggii (cherry sage). I returned home with my ‘new friends’ and proceeded to dig up some ground around the front porch. I amended the soil with compost and set out my first perennials. I watered them faithfully every four to five days. In a few weeks, with the warm Texas sun and the south wind blowing, my perennials grew and grew and bloomed and bloomed all the way past the first frost in November.
I think I’ve found the answer to my dilemma. I can have a yard with several different blooming plants that brighten up the area and give me pleasure every time I walk out into the yard. Purple coneflower, mealy cup sage, Mexican petunia, and Texas betony were added to my expanding perennial flower beds. I discovered that some perennials could be planted in the fall. When the weather warmed up in the spring they popped their pretty heads up out of the ground and were ready to grow and bloom because of the head start they had been given. Planting in the fall (October and November) gives perennials several weeks to establish a good root system which means stronger and longer blooming plants. When you turn your attention to the perennials at the nurseries, you will always find something new that will give your flower beds that something extra special. You can experience unusual combinations of color and texture that everyone can enjoy. When shopping for perennials, don’t overlook the scraggily plants that seem to be finished. These could be the ones that give you the best display of blooms, come spring!
I have found that native plants and adapted plants do best in this area. Once the perennials have established themselves in your landscape, they require little maintenance and care. They will display their colorful blooms year after year. There are so many varieties and numerous ways to display them in your yard. When you see the first blooms of butterfly weed, Mexican bush sage, lamb’s ears, or flame acanthus you will wonder why it took you so long to discover perennials! When you mix in some ornamental grasses for texture, and annuals for splashes of color you know you will have the prettiest yard on the block!
Experiment to see what pleases and excites you when visiting the nurseries. Let your imagination loose! There is no end to perennials in your landscape. Have fun making your selections when choosing new varieties. They will make you smile when you see them popping out of the ground, stretching their leaves and spreading their blooms for all to see.