By Susan Albert
The growing season is upon us, and garden centers are filled with colorful annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs. But how do you know which plants do well in your Oklahoma or Texas garden? Here are some tips to keep in mind before heading to the garden center.
Climate. It varies across Oklahoma and Texas, so it’s important to know which plants are hardy enough to withstand minimum extreme temperatures. You can refer to the United States Department of Agriculture’s plant hardiness zone map to see how your location fares. In Oklahoma zones range from 6a to 8a, with average minimum extreme temperatures of minus-10°F to 10°F. In Texas zones range from 6b to 10a, with minimum temperatures ranging from minus-5°F to 30°F.
Plant tags in the garden centers show the hardiness zones, so be sure to check the tags before purchasing. That way you know whether the plant can “winter over.” Also on the tag pay attention to the amount of light the plant requires, whether full sun, part sun, or shade, and choose plants accordingly.
Conditions. Several regions in Oklahoma and Texas are prone to drought and extreme heat. If you live in one of them, it pays to do a little research before a trip to the garden center. Check online sources, such as the state extension websites, for drought-tolerant suggestions. In addition, there are many savvy ideas for dealing with our challenging climate in the South-Central region, including some here.
Drought-tolerant plants include:
- Annuals: summer snapdragon (Angelonia angustifolia), firebush (Hamelia patens), yellow bells (Tecoma stans), Mexican zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia), and wax begonia.
- Perennials: Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis), daylily (Hemerocallis spp.), red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora), iris, red Texas star (Ipomopsis rubra), hens and chicks (Sempervivum spp.), Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera), and autumn sage (Salvia greggii).
- Shrubs: Blue Mist spirea (Caryopteris x clandonensis), smoketree (Cotinus coggygria), red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea), Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), nandina (Nandina domestica), mugo pine (Pinus mugo), and Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica).
- Trees: red maple (Acer rubrum), Oklahoma redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis ‘Oklahoma’), Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus), crabapple (Malus ‘Prairefire’), loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), desert willow (Chilopsis linearis), and lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia).
Native Plants. Choose native plants, which are naturally acclimated to your region. Some good ones to try are butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), blanket flower (Gaillardia spp.), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), coreopsis, blue false indigo (Baptisia australis), and Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis).
Tested Plants. Oklahoma Proven and Texas Superstar recommend plants suitable for the growing conditions in those states. You’ll find favorites such as chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus), Tidal Wave cherry petunia, and Tiger Eyes sumac (pictured top at the Tulsa Extension Center).
Above all, have fun choosing new plants for your landscape this spring.
Take a big step toward ensuring success in your garden. Stick with plants that are well adapted to your region’s climate.Learn More