Star plants of the summer months

Although we have enjoyed some rains this spring, I can’t help but notice that we have entered the oven-hot months of the summer, and I also notice that my life has a certain repetitive rhythm to it: water all day long at the nursery, drive home … and more watering.

With all these hours spent holding the hose, I am having ample time to reflect on which plants perform the best during the summer months.

There are seven trees which stand out: Monterrey oak, Texas persimmon, Texas mountain laurel, Chinese pistache, Chinquapin oak, mesquite, and Chitalpa. They all seem to thrive on little or no water at all. They were established trees when I moved to the property in 2001, and all are native except the Chinese Pistache and the Chitalpa – which I find loaded every day with a profusion of flowers that the hummingbirds love.

Some perennials and grasses that hold their own: Mexican feather grass, miscanthus (maiden grass), muhly grass, blackfoot daisy, lantana, thyrallis (golden showers), Salvia gregii (cherry sage), Mexican bush sage, Copper Canyon daisy, four-nerve daisy, and esperanza (yellow bells).

Perhaps the showiest plant of all is pride of Barbados. Flowering daily throughout the summer, they are providing the butterflies with much needed nectar.

On the herbal side, rosemary, Mexican mint marigold, garden sage, and Mexican oregano seem to be doing just fine with infrequent, deep waterings.

We can’t forget the yuccas and agaves. No water – no problem. I planted an Agave americana (century plant) out by my front gate seven years ago and without any extra water it has turned into 15 plants.

For annual color, tops are vinca-periwinkle, with purslanes and moss-roses in second place.

For another opinion I consulted with Jerry Hinton, who works with me at the nursery. Here’s Jerry’s list: Mexican mint marigold, Mexican oregano, Mexican feathergrass, santolina, dwarf Barbados cherry, thyrallis, silver bush germander, yaupon holly, silver ponyfoot, and Gregg’s dalea.

With a little planning and a great number of drought tolerant and heat hardy plants to choose from, one could most certainly create a beautiful and water conserving landscape. Happy gardening everyone!

If you have a question, send it to me via email: iathyme@yahoo.com. (Please put ‘Ask Chris Winslow’ in the subject line.)

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