East Texas, unlike much of the Lone Star State, is a heavily forested region. Post oak plains give way to longleaf pines in its south. Loblolly pines and water-resistant oaks dominate east of Houston, according to the “Handbook of Texas Online.” Sixty annual thunderstorm days and rainfall averaging more than 44 inches—and Julys and Augusts that are Texas' driest—mean East Texas gardeners can succeed with moisture-loving or drought-tolerant plants.
Colorful and low-growing winecup (Callirhoe involucrata) is a spreading, mallow family perennial. Growing up to 1 foot high and 3 feet wide, it carpets East Texas shrublands and forests with grayish-green, lobed foliage. Between March and June, its poppy-like, cup-shaped blooms appear at the juncture of its leaves and stems. Pink, purple or white, the up to 2 1/2-inch flowers close temporarily at night and permanently after pollination. Winecup is an attractive cascading plant suitable for containers, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Drought-tolerant, it likes sun to partial shade and well-draining, sandy or rocky and acidic (pH below 7.0) soil.
Texas redbud (Cercis Canadensis var. texensis) grows in limestone-rich areas of East Texas. Suitable as a shrub or small tree, this early spring bloomer stands 10 to 20 feet high. In March and April, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, clusters of pea-like purple-pink flowers emerge from its branches. Heart-shaped, glossy green leaves follow. They bring red or golden yellow autumn color, while reddish seedpods brighten gardens in winter. Texas redbud grows in well-draining alkaline (pH above 7.0) soil. Young trees benefit from filtered shade.
Evening Rain Lily
Evening rain lily (Cooperia drummondii) is a nocturnally blooming, perennial bulb. It brightens East Texas evenings with white flowers that open after a rain. The fragrant white lilies, becoming pink as they age, top 1-foot stems. They bloom from May to September, with heaviest flowering from summer into fall. The plant’s grassy foliage appears after the flowers die. Plants are native to East Texas’ woodland edges. They’re attractive planted among groundcovers or in low meadows, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. They grow in sun to partial shade and aren’t particular about soil type.
A perennial vine, purple clematis (Clematis pitcheri) grows along the edges and in thickets and open areas of East Texas’ woods. Climbing up to 10 feet before dying back in autumn, it has heavily veined, divided green leaves. Between May and September, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, its nodding stems bear blooms of purple to brick red. The long-lived flowers’ contrasting interiors may be white, red or deeper purple. Plants like well-draining locations and moist soil. Their fragile stems benefit from support.