Annual & Perennial Flowers Provide Year Round Color
Annual flowers are those plants which completer their life cycle in one year. For our purposes in this website we will include in the annuals group all plants generally treated as annuals in our climate. Some such plants may be perennials in a milder climate and some are actually biennials, in that they begin their life cycle in one year and complete it in the next.
Annuals provide instant color to our landscapes. There is a wide range of annuals to choose from including both flowering plants and foliage color plants. Some annuals thrive in the cool season while others are warm season plants. To keep your landscape beds attractive year round may require at least 2 or 3 successive plantings of annual plants through the year.
Perennials flowers are plants that return year after year. In most cases they die back to near the ground line in winter and return in the spring. This separates them from woody ornamentals that last for years but retain their above ground structure throughout the year.
Perennials offer a good return on your money as they continue to bring beauty to the landscape for years to come. There is considerable variety to choose from when it comes to perennial color making it possible to have something of interest throughout the four seasons here in our climate.
Careful planning will insure that your landscape is beautiful in spring, summer, fall and even winter. Perennial plants have their seasons where they shine which are usually followed by a period of time when they are unattractive. Proper maintenance is important to prevent them from distracting from the beauty of your landscape during their “off seasons”.
- Annuals for Travis County
- Frost and Freezes
- Annuals and Perennials for the Landscape(Texas A&M)
- Flowers for All Seasons(Texas A&M)
- Herbaceous Plants Picture Pages(Texas A&M)
- Annual Flowers Database & Photos
- Wildflowers in Bloom
- Seasonal Color…Care and Management
- Perennial Garden Color
- Perennials for Texas Landscapes
- Cutflower Gardening
- Using Color in Flower Gardens(Cornell Univ.)
- Edible Flowers (North Carolina State Cooperative Extension)
- Annual Bedding Plants (Louisiana State Univ.)
- Annuals and Perennials (Univ. of Florida
- All America Selections
- Cut Flower Manual (Texas Dept. of Ag)
Vines and Groundcovers Create Outdoor Spaces
Vines and ground covers form the floor, walls and ceiling of outdoor spaces. They also often make striking accent plants in your landscape design.
Ground covers maybe vining plants sheared to form a low growing carpet, or short statured non-vining plants grouped closely together to create a similar effect. Ground covers are especially useful in shady areas where turfgrass cannot thrive. Some are also adapted to sunny locations. Ground covers are useful in a landscape to break up the predominant feature of lawn areas, adding a different texture, color, height or design form to the outdoor area.
Vines are underutilized in our landscapes. They are useful for covering a fence, shading a western wall, covering an overhead arbor or adorning a tree trunk or porch post. Evergreen vines may help screen a view. Flowering vines bring color and many attract butterflies or hummingbirds.
We refer to some vines as woody because their above ground parts remain year after year, while others are perennial, dying to the ground in winter to return again in spring. Some are cold tender tropicals and others we refer to as annuals, because they must be replanted or reseeded each year. Check out the information in this section of the website to find some appropriate ground covers and vines to add an attractive carpet or a little vertical interest to your landscape.
Woody Ornamentals Provide Structure in the Landscape
Woody ornamental plants including trees and shrubs form the basic framework of a landscape. Their form provides structure and they serve as the walls and trees of the outdoor setting. Some are unique with striking features that serve as specimen plants while others blend in such as shrubs in a hedgerow. Many are evergreen provide year round screening while deciduous types drop their foliage. Even without leaves some types are quite ornamental in the dormant season bringing interesting structural elements with their bare trunks and branches. Blooming trees and shrubs offer an additional bonus feature.
Shrubs come in many shapes and sizes. Keep in mind the intended purpose and space available when choosing shrubs. Far too many large shrubs are planted beneath windows or alongside a walkway only to take over or be mercilessly hacked on a regular basis to keep them in bounds. There are many dwarf species and varieties to choose from for such settings.
Trees likewise come in various shapes and sizes. Choose one to fit your soil, climate and the space available. It makes no sense to plant a giant live oak in a typically small backyard of today. While it may look great for a few years in time it will shade out every thing including your neighbor’s property leaving only hardscapes and monkeygrass to survive in its dense shadow. We have several great small trees that are well suited to today’s smaller lot sizes.
The most common mistake in planting a tree is to choose one of the common fast growing “trash” species. Arizona ash is example #1 as these trees grow fast and soon become a nuisance with surface roots, dropping limbs, and various disease problems. It is much better to plant a long lived, adapted species. With a little extra water and fertilizer in the first 5 to 10 years you can speed it up to reach a very respectable size in no time. Trees are a long term investment. Invest in something that will keep increasing in beauty and value, even 50 years down the line.
- Pruning with a Purpose
- Proper Pruning Techniques
- Grow Green Installation & Maintenance
- Pruning Chart for Trees and Shrubs
- Basic Principles of Pruning Woody Plants
- Pruning Ornamental Plants in the Landscape (Univ. of Georgia Extension)
Other Tree Resources
- Made for the Shade – Shade Trees
- Characteristics of Crepe Myrtle Cultivars
- Crape Myrtles for Central Texas Landscapes
- Austin Area Arborist List
- Texas Native Trees
- Texas Native Shrubs
- Planting a Tree
- Texas Oak Wilt Managment
- Protecting Existing Landscape Trees from Construction Damage Due to Grade Changes
- Fertilizing Woody Ornamentals
- Tree & Shrub Info (Texas A&M Univ.)
- Characteristics of Crape Myrtle Varieties
- Fact Sheets for 680 Tree Species (Univ. of Florida)
- Trees Are Good (Int. Soc. Of Arboriculture)
- Woody Ornamentals (Univ. of Florida)
Roses for Central Texas Landscapes
Roses are the queen of the landscape. Their blooms are among the most popular of all garden flowers. In a traditional rose garden, modern hybrid teas produce their long stemmed cut flowers with perfect form. But such roses require considerable care in order to maintain optimum plant health and bloom production.
Old garden roses, or antique roses, have enjoyed a growing popularity in recent years. These roses predate the appearance of the first hybrid tea rose in 1867. We are also seeing an increased interest in shrub roses, both old and modern, along with an emphasis by breeders on disease resistance. Many modern roses now possess superior disease resistance to some of the best old garden roses. As a result roses have spread from the “rose garden” out into the landscape.
Shrub types that look great even when not in bloom make great hedges or specimen plants. Miniatures are well suited to containers or small bed areas. Climbers grace fences, arbors or form pillars of bloom on upright posts. We have assembled many great resources in this section to help you select and grow roses and to beautify your outdoor living areas.
- Rose Information(Texas A&M)
- Old Roses(Texas A&M)
- Earth Kind Roses (Texas A&M)
- Common Rose Diseases (AgriLife Bookstore E-157)
- Earth-Kind Rose Brochure (AgriLife)
Making Houseplants Feel at Home
There is no such thing as a houseplant. Why make such a statement? Well, because no plants are native to a home. Plants we use indoors are native to various environments including deserts and jungles.
We choose plants that will tolerate our indoor environments so we can pot them up and decorate the interior of our home. Most of these plants are from tropical regions where they grow beneath a dense tall canopy of trees. Thus, they can tolerate lower light levels which are typical of most home settings. Adequate light is a key to success with houseplants.
In addition to adequate light levels, a second key to keeping plants healthy indoors is proper soil moisture. Dry soil brings obvious problem, yet more houseplants are damaged or killed by overwatering than perhaps any other factor. When the potting soil stays soggy wet, roots lack oxygen and die. Root rots often follow resulting in loss of the plant.
Some plants tolerate less light than others. They also vary in the amount of humidity they prefer as well as the temperature range they tolerate. The information in this section can help you choose plants that will thrive in various areas of your home and help you provide the proper care necessary to keep them healthy and happy.
- Winter Houseplant Care
- Quick Tips for Growing African Violets (PDF)
- Interiorscape Plants Database & Photos(Texas A&M)
- Houseplants from Texas Master Gardener Handbook