Texas’ vast reaches extend from the western state’s searing, parched Chihuahuan Desert to the sunny, humid eastern coast around Houston and Galveston. All Texas gardeners need plants that can handle the Lone Star State’s summer heat. Temperatures regularly climb into the 90s in July and August throughout the state, according to the “Handbook of Texas Online.” Plants that thrive in those temperatures will provide summer-long color and minimal garden water bills.
Indian mallow (Abutilon fruiticosum) is a densely branched, woody perennial native to Texas' dry slopes, prairies, cliffs and open woods. Standing from 2 to 3 feet high, it has oval, pointed green leaves with downy undersides. From June to October, single yellow-orange flowers up to 1 inch wide appear at the juncture of the plant’s stems and leaves. Plant Indian mallow in full sun and partial shade and well-drained, dry alkaline (pH above 7.2) soil. Deer, sheep and goats all browse on this plant.
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a late spring- and summer-blooming, milkweed family perennial standing from 18 inches to 2 feet high. Native to open woods, prairies, canyons and hillsides throughout Texas, it has rich, deep-green lance-shaped foliage. Between May and September, butterflies and hummingbirds flock to the plant's large, brilliant orange or yellow-orange flower clusters. Use the drought-tolerant plant, recommends the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, in perennial borders. Plant it in full sun to partial shade and sandy, well-drained soil. Expect aphids with the plants. Remove them with a spray of soapy water. Note that ingesting large amounts of the roots or sap is toxic.
Autumn sage (Salvia greggii) is a mounding, evergreen perennial shrub native to western and central Texas’ dry, rocky slopes. It has small, oval, mint-scented green leaves. Use them as seasonings or in tea. The refreshing fragrance and long flowering season--March to October--make autumn sage a popular ornamental for home gardens. The wild plants’ abundant flower clusters are most often red. White and various shades of pink, orange or purple also occur. Plants bloom most heavily in spring or autumn--depending on their location--and in spurts throughout the summer. This is a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant, pest-and-disease-resistant plant. Use it as a low hedge where passing traffic won’t damage its fragile branches or in a hummingbird garden. Give it full sun and a well-drained site with dry, rocky or limestone-based soil. It doesn’t tolerate heavy clay.