Even the most hardy Texas gardener will admit that gardening is tough work in the blistering hot afternoons of summer. It’s on those days that it is especially nice to crawl under the cool canopy of a big tree for awhile. And, while you’re there, consider the color and interest you can add to that particular growing space. Many evergreen plants exist that will do quite well in your Texas shade garden.
Although the label at the nursery may tell you boxwood only likes partial shade, many Texas gardeners have had good luck with it in the shade. It will grow slower than normal, but it maintains its color and stays healthy. Boxwood has a very shallow root system so it needs a bit more water than some of the drought-tolerant Texas plants. The 'Argenteovariegata' has variegated leaves to add a little punch to the Texas shade garden.
The dwarf wax myrtle is a Texas native that thrives in the shade and smells good too. A member of the bayberry family, the leaves, when brushed up against, give off the faint scent of bayberry. If you are looking for a flowering evergreen, you will be interested to know that this one blooms with yellow flowers in the winter and the spring. Dwarf wax myrtle will grow to 6 feet in height, in wet or dry conditions and in sun or shade. This is one tough Texan.
Aucuba is a slow-growing evergreen shrub with interesting variegated leaves. Aucuba needs the shade in Texas, as the leaves will turn black in the sun. This plant is drought-tolerant but needs consistent moisture. Although a compact plant, it can grow to 6 feet in width and up to 10 feet in height. Pruning will help you maintain it to the desired size.
People call this the cast-iron plant, and for good reason. This is a very hardy plant, thriving in the worst conditions one could throw its way: heat, drought, cold and deep shade. And if that isn’t enough to make you run out to get one, the cast-iron plant has no known disease or insect problems, according to master gardeners at Texas A&M University.