Texas gardens don’t need to look colorless and drab during the winter months. Gardeners can use various plants to liven up outdoor gardens during the colder times of the year. While the Gulf Coast region of the state can use year-round tropical plants, other parts of Texas must garden with freeze-tolerant shrubs, flowers and vines. The following plants are cold-tolerant varieties that add a dash of color to the Texas winter landscape.
Possumhaw holly (Ilex deciduas) is a deciduous shrub or tree belonging to the Aquifoliaceae family. Possumhaws are indigenous to North America and thrive in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 9A.
Mature possumhaw hollies range in height from 8 to 20 feet tall and from 10 to 15 feet in width. Small white flowers bloom among the green leaves from March until May.
Wax myrtles (Morella cerifera) are fast-growing, evergreen shrubs and trees native to coastal areas. Wax myrtles reach heights of 6 to 20 feet, and can tolerate both drought and poor drainage situations. The aromatic foliage is light olive green, and the bluish-white berries appear on females in the winter. This evergreen ornamental is commonly used for landscaping, screens and hedges.
Yaupon hollies are evergreen shrubs or small trees that reach 12 to 25 feet in height. Yaupons are slow-growing plants that need careful pruning to avoid a thick, twiggy look. These hollies are typically used as an understory or accent tree. The dark green leaves are generally shorter than 1 ½ inches long. The bright red berries are a late-winter source of food for various Texas bird species.
Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is a twining, evergreen vine native to the East Texas forested region. This perennial plant grows up to 20 feet in length and is capable of climbing trees, fences and other structures. The glossy, dark green foliage develops a slight purple or yellow cast during the winter. Carolina jessamines bloom fragrant, small yellow flowers from December through May. This tenacious vine has no serious pest or disease problems.
Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is a high-climbing perennial vine that grows between 3 and 20 feet long. While the coral honeysuckle is a winter-hardy plant, it typically blooms between March and June. The showy, trumpet-shaped flowers are red on the outside and yellow on the inside. The flower clusters are followed by bright red berries that attract various native birds.
The snapdragon vine (Maurandya antirrhiniflora), also called a roving sailor, is a semi-evergreen vine belonging to the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae). This delicate, herbaceous vine typically reaches 3 to 6 feet in length, and is commonly used for climbing small gates or trellises. Small pink- to purple-colored flowers bloom from March until October. Snapdragon vines are commonly used in butterfly gardens.