Finding plants that preform well in the hot and humid Houston area is tough, finding ones that stay beautiful all year is harder. Over the years, we have found several plants that are staples to most of our landscape design. Below are the ones that made it to the top ten!
Boxwood– Use this evergreen shrub to keep borders nice and neat, and help outline the shape of your beds. Boxwood in a globe shape are used as accents at the beginning or ending of the hedge, to provoke that European style. Boxwood provide green foliage all year long with tiny leaves and dense branches that can be clipped and hedged any style you prefer.
Our favorite varieties are Baby Gem and Baby Jade. Both grow well in sun and semi shade, but it is important to plant them in a well drained bed.
Agapanthus– Also known as Lily of the Nile is a perennial that comes in many varieties. Here are a few that we like to use.
The Queen Ann series blooms beautiful blue violet flowers with a stem height of 24 inches and leaf height of 15 inches. Queen Ann provides blooms in the summer. Storm Cloud blooms mid summer to early fall. Ever Sapphire blooms early spring and re-blooms in the summer.
Pringles Dwarf Yew: This is an excellent new introduction. If you are looking for an evergreen slow growing dark green plant — look no further. We have had great success with this plant, and survived the freeze with ease. We have found it to be sun and shade tolerant and does not miss a beat in the humidity. You can use it as a hedge beneath low windows to provide you with a wonderful green back-drop, or as specimen plant — instead of your Dwarf Yaupon or Indian Hawthorn.
Imperial Blue Plumbago: Amanda and I love this plant, mainly because it is one of the only plants that actually produces a true blue flower all summer long. In Houston this plant blooms prolifically Spring through late Fall. Give it space as it can easily grow 3-4′ wide and tall. You can trim it and maintain it smaller, but if you are like me you might not want to trim while it is laden with blooms. Combine this with Italian Cypress as the dark foliage of the Cypress contrasts so well with the light colored leaves and the blue flowers of the Plumbago. It grows well in full sun and part shade.
Wax Leaf Ligustrum, the staple plant of Houston. Yes, I know this is everywhere, but I love it! You cannot beat this plant. It has beautiful dark green shiny foliage that can be shaped into a dense privacy hedge and will provide nice back drop to your color and perennials.
Drift Rose: Love, love, love these new dwarf ever-blooming roses!!! We have been using them on our landscape jobs now for five or six years, and each year we fall in love with them even more. There are many colors from white, to red, to pink, peach, apricot and more. All grow between 18″ – 30″ tall. They love full sun or half day of sun. I fertilize mine around mid February with a Rose Fertilizer. During the year, dead- head them if you wish, and prune no more than a 1/3 of the plants’ size all year long. Around mid-February do the heavy pruning — you can take them down to 6″ if you wish — then watch them grow and bloom again shortly afterwards! A true favorite!!
Foxtail Fern: This plant is a very low maintenance easy care plant. Plant it and forget about it. I love that it provides a different leaf texture and structure to the rest of the landscape. It’s chartreuse color always makes a landscape pop! Plant in full sun or part shade. It is also a great plant to use in pots.
Loropetalum: There are many varieties of Loropetalum available nowadays. Our favorite is Purple Day Dream. This is a new introduction, that keeps it purple foliage all year long. It is a dwarf and grows between 2-3′ tall. So, it can easily be maintained at a desired height. We love to use this behind Boxwood borders as we find the two colors of foliage make a lovely contrast. If you are looking for a variety that grows larger and also holds the purple colored foliage, try the Purple Diamond which grows about 4-5′ tall or the Ever Red — growing about 5-6′ tall.
Variegated Pittosporum: If you want to add depth to your garden, or would like to introduce another shade of green– then use Variegated Pitts! We love nestling these in between Ligustrum and Boxwood to add a variety of leaf structure and color. Can be easily pruned and maintained as a hedge, thrives in full or half day sun. Another variety of Variegated Pittosporum is the dwarf Mojo Pittosporum, this only grows approximately 24-30″ tall and thrives in morning sun or shade.
Star Jasmine: This beautiful evergreen vine grows quickly and covers a fence in no time. It blooms in a very fragrant white flower during Spring which contrast beautifully with the dark green foliage. We love to use this as a back-drop to disguise ugly fences. We also use it to form espaliers on blank walls.
Here is how you can use some of the plants mentioned above. In this clients courtyard garden I used a combination of Boxwood, Drift Roses, Ligustrum & Agapanthus.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our favorite top ten plants. Happy gardening!