Lost my precious mother last year and I was always able to just pick up the phone and ask all kinds of questions from gardening to cooking.* Someone else is going to have to help me now.*
I live in East Texas (Canton, Texas - Zone 8) and would like to have some suggestions as to what will grow and flower in the fall and winter months.* I have already ordered some beautiful pansies.* What else will provide color during the drab winter months and compliment my pretty pansies?*
Thanks to all in advance for your help.*
So sorry to hear of your loss.* Maybe we can help.* You've given some great info, but you don't say what the sun conditions are so I'm including plants that will grow in different sun conditions.* I'm also including some ornamental grasses and sedges.* Most ornamental grasses will 'bloom' in fall and they can be left to add interest to the winter garden with their movement and seed heads.* Most carex don't really have pretty flowers, but if evergreen will also add interest to the fall and winter garden.* There are more plants then I have listed here, but some are considered invasive in Texas so I haven't included those.* Some of these ideas for fall and winter bloom will also bloom in summer and would be:
Aster - many varieties with some blooming in summer and some into late fall.* There's even a native climbing vine.* It really needs something to lean on, but Aster carolinianis holds it's flower color after several frosts.* In warm winters I've seen the flower heads stay in color into December in my zone 7 garden.* The birds like to build a nest in mine.* In my zone 7 garden it holds it's color later then any other plant so I have it placed where I can see it from my kitchen window.* It does take away the early winter blahs.
Pavonia hastata - Pale Pavonia, Pale Texas Rosemallow, Pale Rock Rose.* Pavonia peruviensis - Peruvian Pavonia - An outstanding sun loving, drought tolerant, evergreen mounding perennial that’s constantly blooming 2” light pink flowers with a red eye spring to fall.* Attractive, dark glossy green, small arrow shaped foliage.* Forms a 3’-4’ mound.* Sun.* Responds well to pruning.* Click on the pictures on the right.
Hamelia patens - firebush, scarlet bush, hummingbird bush.* I wish I could grow this as a perennial, but alas it gets too cold here.
Salvia - Different ones bloom at different times and hummingbirds and butterflies love these, especially the dark purples and reds.* Most salvia don't like very rich soil or they get floppy and don't do well, so lean well draining soil is best in full sun.* There are hundreds of varieties and I've listed just a few that will bloom into fall and some beyond.* You can check out some of the many different ones here.
Salvia elegans - pineapple sage is bright red and smells a bit like it's namesake.* It blooms in fall.
Salvia farinacea - mealycup sage is a native to Texas and a butterfly magnet, blooming from summer to fall.
Salvia greggii - Autumn Sage will continue the bloom through fall and into winter if it stays warm.
Salvia leucantha - Mexican bush sage will also bloom from summer through a warm winter and is another butterfly and hummer magnet.
Salvia 'Indigo Spires' (Salvia hybrid) starts blooming in summer and goes and goes until hard frost, attracting the butterflies and hummers like a magnet.* I cut it back sometimes to keep it a little more neat.
Salvia madrensis - Big Yellow Sage - A striking fall blooming salvia with incredible texture & spectacular 20”-30” long flower spikes of yellow flowers in the fall.* This is a very long-lived salvia that forms spectacular upright clumps of very architectural 1/2”-1” square stems covered with wonderfully textured foliage.* The flowers are the icing on the cake!* Grows 4’-6’ tall & prefers full sun.* Hummingbirds & Butterflies.
Salvia microphylla - several named varieties will bloom through fall.
Viburnum obovatum - Walters Viburnum – An outstanding, native, evergreen large shrub with attractive small dark green leaves.* It produces a magnificent display of clusters of white flowers in February-March.* ‘Walters’ Viburnum is tough, easy to grow, & very versatile.* It can be used as a hedge, screen, or small “tree”.* Un-pruned, it forms a very large, full, evenly shaped shrub, but pruned as a hedge (from 3’ tall to 10’ tall) it becomes an incredibly thick, impenetrable wall of green.* ‘Walters’ Viburnum tolerates drought & the occasional flood, tolerates a wide range of soils, & grows in sun or part shade.* It also can be trained as a small 12’ x 10’ ornamental “tree”.* Grows from 6’-12’ tall.* There is also a ‘Compact Walters’ Viburnum.* It’s slower growing & averages 4’– 6’ tall.* You'll have drupes of berries for the birds in fall.
Odontonema strictum - firespike will give you a show in winter and spring.
Cassia corymbosa - Yellow Senna - A showy, evergreen large shrub or small* “tree” that puts on a spectacular display of large round clusters of yellow flowers summer & fall. Grows anywhere from 6’ to 12’ tall.* Tolerates occasional drought & flood conditions. Sun.* Butterflies!
Duranta erecta – Duranta or golden dew drops, pigeonberry, skyflower* - Duranta forms a large, full, root hardy “shrub” that is covered with tight clusters of blue, white, or purple flowers in heavy cycles late spring thru fall.* It also produces dangling clusters of yellow berries.* A must for any butterfly garden!!!* Prefers full sun but will take light shade.* There’s a dark blue variety called ‘Dark Skies’, a white variety, and a purple variety called ‘Sweet Memory’.* Butterflies!* It will probably die back each winter and resprout in spring so it won't be that difficult to control the size.
Muhlenbergia capillaris - Gulf Coast Muhly - pink muhlygrass.* A clumping native grass to the Houston & surrounding areas with very fine foliage.* Gulf Coast Muhly is a showstopper in the fall with an absolute cloud of pink flowers!!!* It makes a great border specimen & is spectacular in mass plantings!* It’s also a great grass for coastal gardens.* Averages 2’ tall.* Moist, but well drained.* It’s drought tolerant once established.* Sun.
Muhlenbergia lindheimerii - Lindheimer Muhly - Another wonderful, clumping, drought tolerant native grass with very narrow, upright aqua blue foliage.* In late summer, Lindheimer Muhly produces narrow, elegant flower spikes covered with creamy flowers with a tinge of purple that turn silver-gray at maturity.* Lindheimer Muhly can be used as a single specimen in a perennial border or in mass plantings.* The flowers are stunning in arrangements.* Averages 3’ tall.* It tolerates a wide range of soil conditions & is drought tolerant once established. Needs to be well drained.* Sun.
Panicum virgatum - Switch Grass - An extremely versatile & attractive native clumping grass that tolerates a wide range of soil & climatic conditions.* It has an erect upright form with showy, airy flowers in summer.* It is valued for its upright form, showy flowers, brilliant fall color, & winter silhouette.* Switch Grass tolerates dry to boggy soils as well as blazing sun to light shade.* It is beautiful planted alone or as a mass planting & is great for naturalizing & for attracting wildlife.* 3’-4’ tall. ‘Prairie Sky’ is a beautiful blue variety of Switch Grass & ‘Shenandoah’ has red tinted foliage and is my favorite.* There are many named varieties with different attributes.* You can look them up at the last link.
Carex phyllocephala - Sparkler Carex - Outstanding!* A gorgeous, attention-getting, evergreen sedge that resembles Forth of July sparklers with whorls of dramatic white & green foliage atop 12”-15” stems.* It’s a clump forming “grass” that’s attractive as one specimen or absolutely spectacular as a mass planting!* Prefers light shade & moist, well drained soil.* Will grow in full sun if in an irrigated bed.* Practically maintenance free!
Lantana montevidensis - trailing lantana, weeping lantana is one of the lantanas that bloom until a hard frost.* Be careful with this one as the unripe berries and the leaves can make livestock and pets sick.* There is even a yellow cultivar called 'Pot of Gold'.
My favorite vine is Lonicera sempervirens, a native honeysuckle.* In my zone 7 garden it blooms on and off from the beginning of May to hard frost in late October or November.* It offers nectar to the hummingbirds and butterflies and berries to the birds.* Other honeysuckles can be invasive.* There are several named varieties.* I grow L. 'Blanche Sandman' and L. 'John Clayton' which is yellow.* The hummers go to both, but I find the yellow one is not as full or floriferous as the others.* My favorite plant in the garden for length of bloom and wildlife value.
Bulbine flavescens - Yellow Bulbine - A very unique, normally evergreen clump-forming perennial for full sun. Narrow aloevera-type foliage 12” tall.* Forms dense, terminal racemes of small star-shaped yellow flowers on slender 18” stems almost 11 months of the year!* Has been evergreen down to 25 degrees. Sun, part shade.* Good drainage.* Bulbine sp. - Tangerine Bulbine - Identical to the Yellow Bulbine except that the foliage is a little more refined & it produces dense, terminal racemes of gorgeous star-shaped tangerine flowers.* Sun, part shade.* Good drainage.* You may have trouble finding this one.* I've read The Arbor Gate nursery in Tomball has it.
Some bulbs to consider.* They are great at extending the bloom seasons into fall and late winter and are easy care.
Rhodophiala bifida - oxblood lily is lovely and will bloom in fall.* There is a dark pink variety now too.
Habranthus robustus ‘Libra’ - Libra Rainlily - An unbelievably prolific repeat blooming rainlily!* Blooms beautiful 2”-3” apple-blossom pink flowers during rainy periods spring, summer, & fall.* Has attractive grass-like foliage 10”-12” tall.* Multiplies from bulb & seed.** Sun or part shade.* Rainlilies are spectacular in mass plantings, wonderful tucked in pockets throughout the garden, and also love showing off in containers.* For a delicate looking plant, these are quite tough.* Will tolerate wet & dry.
Zephyranthes grandiflora - Pink Rainlily - area.* Multiplies by bulb & by seed.* Moist, well drained soil.* Part shade or full sun.* An absolutely gorgeous rainlily with large, 2” rich pink flowers.* It’s a great repeat bloomer spring, summer, & fall under the proper climatic conditions. It averages 12” tall.* A beautiful naturalizing bulb for the Houston
Zephyranthes candida - White Rainlily - Showy white flowers late summer-fall.* Evergreen grass-like foliage.* Forms beautiful clumps 10” tall.* Light shade or full sun.* Moist, well drained.* A wonderful bulb that slowly multiplies.
There are many bulbs that bloom in late winter and early spring to extend the bloom season when you are tired of the drab winter scene.* Take a look through this wonderful mail order nursery.* They give bloom time for them depending on your zone.* They carry some of the rainlilies in the summer catalog.
If you decide to mail order you can check references here.* You can even search by state or type of plant material.
You can research these plants and more at google and even click on 'Images'.
Don't hesitate to ask more questions.
Newt....thanks SO much for your reply.* I was beginning to think that nothing grew in Texas in the fall and winter that anyone knew off.* LOL
I should have known you would come through for me.* Do I owe you something.* That was quite a list.* I have printed it off and I am going to do some research now on the links.* When I go to the local nursery(s) it seems like they have these young kids working in all of them now and they know NOTHING of plants or gardening.* Hey, I'm not putting them down in any way...glad they are working...rare these days for a lot of kids.* They know how to scan things on a register, but you ask them where "peat moss" is and they look at you like your asking for some kind of Mexican food or something.*
I am so glad to have this list you sent.* Thanks Newt so much.* You're wonderful.
Donna, you don't owe me a thing.* I enjoy helping others to have lovely gardens without the use of chemicals and pesticides.* It took me a bit to get the list together and I even thought of writing in to tell you I was working on it.* I probably should have done that.*
Oh, I forgot one plant that I just love in my garden.* If you have a woodland or shady area the evergreen Hellebore is great for late winter to spring blooms.* They traditionally have their flowers facing down so they don't get overwhelmed by snow, but some newer cultivars now have flowers facing up.* The ones that face down are often best viewed when planted on top of a retaining wall.* This place is famous for their breeding program.* The owner has a good sense of humor as well.* I DO NOT recommend ordering from him though as his shipping and references aren't good.* You can use the site for reference to the plants though.
I do understand what you mean about the young folks at many of the nurseries.* It's rare today to find someone who knows about the plant material they sell.*
Btw, you mentioned peat moss.* I certainly hope you don't use it as an additive to your garden beds.
Naw...don't worry.* I don't remember EVER buying peat moss.* I was just trying to be funny.*
I just love reading your posts.* Don't worry about not writing and letting me know you were working on all that you sent me.* It was like Christmas when I opened my email and saw that I had a response from you.* I KNEW it was going to be good.* I bet your place is absolutely GORGEOUS!* You're wonderful and I appreciate all the feedback and recommendations you are giving me and you can bet I am going to check into all of them.* I can't wait for everything to be gorgeous here and send pictures for you to see.
Also, I forgot to tell you....it is REAL sandy here.* I mean REAL sandy.* What is good to add to the "sand" to give my pretties a little more nourishment?*
Thanks again Newt....still don't see that recipe for cornbread dressing.* hee hee
The best thing you can add to sandy soil is compost.* It will help improve the texture of the soil, increase the water holding ability and add good microbes.* You can buy it in bulk or in bags.* It's usually less expensive in bulk.* Of course adding an organic mulch after you plant will also help.
I did a google for conrbread dressing and there were so many recipes my head was spinning!