Texas Natives to Beat the Heat

June 6, 2019 | By Roundtree Landscaping

It may be enjoyable outside right now, but we know the brutal heat of a Texas summer is never far away. To keep your landscape looking great during a hot Texas summer, it’s wise to incorporate Texas native plants that handle the intense heat and periods of drought.

Try planting some of our favorite natives to beat the Texas heat!

Flame Acanthus, Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii

Flame Acanthus is an underused, drought tolerant, small shrub. The heat-loving plant blooms during the summer and fall with long, tubular flowers that are bright red. Hummingbirds love them! The plant grows about 3-5 feet in height and width and works great when planted in a perennial border, rock garden, hellstrip, or poor soil situation.

Agarita, Mahonia trifoliolata

A suitable native alternative to holly bushes is Agarita. The shrub reaches 6’ in height and width with grey-blue-green spiky foliage. In the spring, you can enjoy fragrant yellow flowers followed by red berries. Agarita is extremely low maintenance and thrives in full sun, low water situations.

Photo courtesy of Dotty Woodson, Texas A&M Extension Service

Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus drummondii

Turk’s cap is a native herbaceous perennial plant for shady gardens. This plant is a workhorse that can grow in virtually any type of soil and moisture, from spreading along creek beds to covering ground beneath large trees. Turk’s Cap grows to reach 6’ in size and is covered during the summer and fall with red, hibiscus-like flowers that don’t fully open, followed by edible red fruit. The flowers are highly attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds, while birds enjoy the fruit. There are also pink and white flowered varieties.

Pink flowered Turk's Cap

Desert Willow, Chilopsis linearis

If you are looking for a small, ornamental native tree, Desert Willow is a great pick! The deciduous tree has long narrow light green leaves that mimic a willow –hence the common name. But, it’s the flowers that really make this species stand out. Desert Willow blooms in the summer after rains with large, showy, trumpet-shaped flowers that range in color from blush pink to bright pink to sometimes even lavender. The flowers are sweetly scented. The small tree normally reaches 15-20’ tall & wide and does best in well-draining soil with little water. Quite the stunning specimen.

Prickly Pear, Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri

Of course, no Texas native plant list would be complete without listing the ‘State Plant of Texas’: the prickly pear. The ultimate Texas native when it comes to heat & drought, prickly pear is also quite beautiful when in bloom. The bright yellow flowers are a favorite of bees in spring & summer and are followed by bright red edible fruit. The large rounded pads can grow 3-4’ tall and spread as far as you will let them.

Like any cactus, they like loose, well-draining soil. But they can also tolerate heavier soils as long as excess irrigation isn’t an issue. If spines aren’t your thing, we suggest planting smooth prickly pear instead.

Native and drought tolerant plants don’t have to be boring. We love all of the plants above for different reasons – whether the texture they add to the landscape or pollinator and wildlife support -or strictly for ease of care – Texas natives are a must have in the garden.


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