Gardening in Austin, Texas, is a challenge due to the intense heat and low rainfall of a typical summer and soil types that range from heavy black clay in some locations to caliche mixed with limestone in others. However, there are some common plants that thrive in the Austin area that are reliable performers in every garden.
The knockout rose is a well-adapted rose bush for Austin gardens. It was developed by Texas A&M University while attempting to find the toughest rose bush for Texas. It is available with flowers that bloom in yellow, pink or red. The knockout rose grows to 4 feet high and 4 feet wide. It can be planted in a line and cut back as a blooming hedge or left to grow as a single specimen plant. Once established, it is drought tolerant. The knockout rose is a popular shrub in the Austin area, and it is used extensively in commercial and residential landscaping.
Texas Lilac or Vitex
The vitex is a small tree also known as the Texas lilac. It produces upright purple flower spikes continuously throughout the summer if the old flower spikes are removed. Otherwise, it blooms once or twice during the season, depending on the variety, on new growth. It takes little care once established and is used in xeriscape gardens or gardens specifically designed for low water usage. The Texas lilac vitex can be kept cut back to form a bush as a border plant or left to grow to form a small tree that produces dappled shade.
New Gold Lantana
New gold lantana is an improved variety of gold-blooming lantana that blooms throughout the summer. Native lantana plants bloom once, then produce seed. New gold lantana is a low-growing variety that can be used as a taller ground cover at 2 feet in height or is useful in a large container. New gold lantana dies back to the ground in the winter, so all dead limbs and foliage must be removed, but it revives in the spring. It has few pest problems and grows best in full sun.
Gold Star Esperanza
Gold star esperanza is a striking shrub for Austin gardens. It produces bright yellow tubular flowers throughout the hottest part of the season. It grows to 5 or 6 feet in height during the summer and has a spread of 3 to 4 feet. The gold star esperanza is drought tolerant but occasionally dies to the ground in winter. The flowers are popular with hummingbirds and butterflies.