Climates that allow gardens to remain colorful throughout the year is one of the advantages of being a Texas gardener. Although regions away from the Lone Star State's temperate coast may experience sub-freezing winter temperatures, many plants for Texas gardens handle their chill without flinching. Gardeners along Texas' Gulf Coast can focus on tropical shrubs, vines and bedding plants to provide 12 months of garden color and texture.
Perennial red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)--actually belonging to the century-plant family--grows on rocky slopes and prairies across Texas. Its 5-foot stalk rises from a base of 2 to 3 foot long evergreen leaves similar to those of true yuccas. Its blue-green leaves become deep purple in autumn. Between March and May, the stalk's pink stems have tubular, coral blooms. Hummingbirds to flock to the flowers, and deer feed on the plant's leaves. Plant red yucca in a dry, full-sun location, recommends the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It does best in acidic (pH below 6.8) dry soils, from sand, loam, or clay to limestone-based. Use it in perennial or rock gardens and large containers or on rocky slopes.
Sweet Autumn Clematis
Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis ternifolia), a buttercup family vine native to Japan, thrives in South Texas gardens. This fragrant, fall blooming plant is hardy to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Growing 15 to 30 feet long, it has compound, glossy green leaves. Leaf tendrils allow the vine to spread rapidly. Plants not trained on supports will create weed-choking ground covers up to 10 inches high, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. In August and September, the vine has foliage-concealing clusters of 1-inch, fragrant white flowers. Use this clematis on trellises, arbors and fences. Plant it in full sun to partial shade at averagely moist, well-drained soil. Prune as needed in early spring or after flowering has finished in fall.
Annual phlox (Phlox drummondii) grows wild in the open woods and grasslands of central and eastern Texas. A densely branching plant, it typically stands 6 inches to 1 foot high, occasionally reaching 20 inches. The plant's downy, sticky lance-like leaves are bright green. From March to June, its stems have dense clusters of white, pink, or rosy-red trumpet-like blooms, often with differently colored centers. Plant annual phlox in rock gardens, edgings or borders. Give it full sun to partial shade. Afternoon shade is best where summer temperatures are extremely high. It prefers an acidic to neutral pH.and loose, averagely moist humus-rich soil, says the Missouri Botanical Garden. Watch for powdery mildew in humid weather.