The Best Outdoor Plants For Texas (With Pictures) – Identification Guide

The Best Outdoor Plants For Texas (With Pictures) - Identification Guide

The best outdoor plants for Texas can help transform an arid, barren landscape into a vibrant, colorful space. Many varieties of heat-tolerant, sun-loving native flowers, shrubs, evergreen plants, perennials, and annual flowers can transform garden landscapes. By choosing the right colorful, fragrant flowers, evergreen foliage, and pretty, shrubby plants, you can add beauty to your Texas landscape.

Of course, choosing the right outdoor plants for Texas landscapes is challenging. Texas has a diverse climate, with some areas experiencing humid summers. In contrast, western Texas has an arid landscape, not to mention a lot of sunshine throughout the Lone Star State. However, there are plenty of options for growing flowering plants, perennial shrubs, annuals, and evergreen bushes in Texas.

This article is a guide to choosing the best outdoor plants for Texas. Descriptions and pictures of native and adapted plants will help you choose the best varieties for all growing regions in Texas. Additionally, you will get tips on caring for the plants to ensure they thrive in your Texas garden.

The Best Outdoor Plants for Texas — Overview

Full-sun, heat-tolerant plants are best for growing in Texas landscapes. Therefore, native Texas flowers and shrubs like Texas coneflowers, bluebonnets, asters, and lantana shrubs thrive in most regions of the Lone Star State. Additionally, flowering shrubs like hibiscus, beautyberry, and yellow bird of paradise perform well in full sun and heat.

When choosing the most suitable outdoor plants for a Texan landscape, it’s vital to consider your growing zone. Although full-sun plants are best for Texas, there is great diversity in temperatures between North Texas and the regions near the Mexican border and the Gulf Coast.

Generally, USDA growing zones 6 and 7 are in northwestern and central Texas, west of Abilene. USDA zones 8 and 9 generally cover eastern Texas, south of Dallas and San Antonio. However, it’s good to note that some areas bordering Louisiana and Arkansas fall into the Zone 7 category.

Perennial Flowering Outdoor Plants for Texas Landscapes

Native Texas flowers that withstand sun and heat add welcome beauty to sun-drenched outdoor spaces. Here are some of the best heat-tolerant flowers for Texas.

Texas Gold Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Hinckleyana’)

Texas Gold Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Hinckleyana’)

Texas gold columbine is a yellow flowering perennial plant that is suitable for full sun and partial shade

Texas gold columbine is a stunning flowering plant to add yellow color to North and Central Texas garden landscapes. The attractive feature of the flowering plant is its golden-yellow blooms with their backward projecting spurs. The native Texas yellow flowers grow 3” (7.5 cm) long, contrasting with rich emerald leaves.

Golden columbine grows 3 to 4 ft. (1 – 1.4 m) tall and up to 2 ft. (0.6 m) wide. It thrives in full sun to partial shade and is ideal for sunny gardens in bed and borders or cascading over a retaining wall. With minimal effort, you can enjoy the showy yellow blooms in Texas all summer long.

Egyptian Star Flowers (Pentas lanceolata)

Egyptian Star Flower (Pentas lanceolata)

Egyptian star flowers are low maintenance, heat and sun tolerant plants that are a great addition to south Texas gardens

Egyptian star flowers grow on small perennial shrubs in clusters of star-shaped pink, lilac, white, or red flowers. The long-flowering plant tolerates full sun and heat in South Texas landscapes. The flowering perennial grows 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall and wide.

Egyptian star flowers thrive in USDA zones 9 and 11, ideal for sunny tropical landscapes. In Central and North Texas, you can grow the flowers as annuals in full sun. The lush foliage and dainty flowers are ideal for borders, containers, or growing as front-of-the-house foundation plants.

Texas Coneflower (Rudbeckia texana)

Texas Coneflower (Rudbeckia texana)

Texas coneflowers are tall flowers that thrive in Texas heat and sun and add vertical accent to landscaped gardens

Texas coneflower is an attractive drought-tolerant perennial yellow flower for landscapes in Texas. The stunning native Texas flowers feature a large dark brown conical center surrounded by drooping yellow petals. This heat-loving Texas flower grows 5 ft. (1.5 m) tall and has basal leaves 3.5” to 8” (9 – 20 cm) long.

Also called shiny coneflower, the plant is native to Texas so it’s ideal for hot, dry climates. Its tall growth is ideal for back-of-the-bed planting or growing along a fence line. It also attracts pollinators to southern gardens.

Texas Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium)

Texas Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium)

Texas aster is a purple flowering plant that prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade

Texas aster is a beautiful, heat-tolerant wildflower native to Texas with attractive daisy-like flowers. The bushy perennial flowering plant produces mounds of bluish-purple flowers, with slender petals in a ray surrounding a yellow disc center. The cheerful blooms have aromatic foliage, and the compact plant grows 1 to 2 ft. (0.3 – 0.6 m) tall and wide.

Texas aster flowers are easy to care for and require little maintenance—perfect for sunny gardens and outdoor spaces in North and Central Texas. You can grow the clumping flowers as full sun ground cover, bedding plants, or planters in a container garden.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii)

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii)

Turk’s cap is a red flowering heat tolerant shrubby plant that is evergreen in south Texas

Native to Texas, the heat-loving Turk’s cap is an attractive tropical shrub with bright red flowers, heart-shaped fuzzy leaves, and red berries. The vibrantly colored red, hibiscus like-flowers are 2” to 3” (5 – 7.5 cm) long on the tips of tall stems. The perennial flowers grow 2 to 5 ft. (0.6 – 1.5 m) tall and wide.

Turk’s Cap performs best in partial sun or shade and can tolerate a wide range of soil types. The hardy plant is ideal for shade gardens in hot Texas summers. You can grow the eye-catching herbaceous plant with its long blooming red flowers throughout Texas, apart from the Panhandle.

Texas Vervain (Verbena halei)

Texas Vervain (Verbena halei)

Texas vervain is low maintenance flowering perennial plant that can tolerate the sun and heat of Texas

Texas vervain—also called Texas verbena—is a native perennial flowering plant with clusters of dainty, deep purple to lilac funnel-shaped flowers. The small purple flowers grow on erect stems that grow in loose clusters. The drought-tolerant plant is ideal for xeriscaping in Texas gardens.

Texas vervain is a low-growing herbaceous perennial that grows 18” to 24” (45 – 60 cm) tall. Its delicate pale lavender blooms attract a variety of bees and butterflies and add a pop of color to sunny southern gardens.

Shrubby Outdoor Plants for Texas Gardens

Flowering shrubs in Texas landscapes add structure, color, and beauty to front and backyards. In addition, heat-loving shrubs for hot Texas summers are generally tolerant to drought and are low maintenance.

Here are some of the best heat-tolerant shrubs for Texas.

Hardy Hibiscus ‘Texas Star’ (Hibiscus coccineus)

Hibiscus coccineus

Hibiscus coccineus is a heat and sun-loving Texas flowering shrub with attractive red flowers

Also called scarlet red mallow, hardy hibiscus ‘Texas Star’ is a great shrubby plant for adding bright red color to your garden in the heat of the Texas summers. The deep red, fragrant five-petaled flowers measure 3” to 5” (7.5 – 12 cm) across and contrast with deep green glossy leaves.

The hardy heat-tolerant shrub thrives in all growing regions of the Lone Star State. Texas star hibiscus grows 3 to 6 ft. (1 – 1.8 m) tall and 3 ft. (1 m) wide. You can plant it in full sun as a foundation planting, shrub border, or specimen plant where it blooms from July through September.

American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

American beautyberry is a decorative shrub for sunny Texas gardens that provides interest with its summer flowers and purple berries

American beautyberry is a woody shrub and a popular ornamental plant for Texas sun-drenched gardens. The highlight of this deciduous shrub is its stunning clusters of bright magenta to violet berries growing on gracefully arching stems. During hot summers, small clusters of white, pink, or purple flowers bloom among light green, fuzzy leaves.

Perfect for USDA zones 6 through 10, American beautyberry survives Texas heat—from Amarillo to Corpus Christi. Performing well in full sun or partial shade, this bushy shrub grows 3 to 6 ft. (1 – 1.8 m) tall and wide. Plant it as a specimen shrub, along a foundation line, or at the back of a border.

Yellow Bird of Paradise Shrub (Caesalpinia gilliesii)

Yellow Bird of Paradise Shrub (Caesalpinia gilliesii)

Yellow bird of paradise shrub produces attractive flowers and is a great addition to sunny gardens in central and south Texas

The yellow bird of paradise shrub is an eye-catching evergreen shrubby plant to garden landscapes in the deep South. This exotic shrub features bright orange and yellow blossoms featuring deep pink wiry stamens. The showy five-petaled blossoms measure 1” (2.5 cm) across and resemble tropical birds in flight.

Yellow bird of paradise shrubs thrive in full sun in Central and South Texas. The shrubs grow 7 to 10 ft. (2.1 – 3 m) tall and wide in moist, well-drained soils. Other features of the yellow-flowering shrub include feathery foliage, long seed pods, and a mounding shape.

This plant is drought tolerant, making it an ideal flowering hedge or accent shrub in hot Texas summers

Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides)

Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides)

Texas lantanas are great Texas summer flowers that thrive in full sun and are heat tolerant

Texas lantana is a must-have deciduous flowering shrub for Texas gardens in central or southern regions. This heat-tolerant shrub features rounded blooms consisting of yellow, orange and red tubular flower clusters. The colorful flowers bloom from spring through fall, followed by bunches of purple-black berries.

Other features of this full-sun Texas shrub are its rough, ovate, serrated leaves growing on mounding stems 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall. Even in the worst heat of Texas summers, the hardy shrub continues to bloom. It is also tolerant to drought, salt, heat, and eight hours of daily sunshine.

Abelia ‘Kaleidoscope’ (Abelia x. grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’)

Kaleidoscope Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’)

Abelia ‘Kaleidoscope’ changes its foliage colors throughout the seasons and provide long-year interest in Texas landscape

Abelia ‘Kaleidoscope’ is the perfect dwarf shrubby plant for enduring heat in Texas gardens. The eye-catching features of this sun-tolerant shrub are its colorful variegated leaves in shades of red, orange, yellow, and green. Additionally, white trumpet-shaped flowers bloom all summer long until fall. The dwarf shrub grows 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall and up to 4 ft. (1.2 m) wide.

The hardy shrub doesn’t wilt or lose its color even in extreme Texas heat. You can plant it in all regions of Texas, from  El Paso to Lubbock and Dallas and south to Laredo and Corpus Christi. It’s ideal as an informal hedge for Texas gardens, container plant, or to highlight taller shrubs.

Annual Plants for Growing in Texas

Sun-loving annuals are great for adding color and texture to Texas landscapes. Some of the best annual plants for Texas heat may be evergreen in southern Texas but grow as annuals in northwestern Texas.

Here are some of the best annual flowers for hot Texas climates.

Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis)

Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis)

Texas bluebonnet is a native full sun wildflower suitable for north and central Texas

Texas bluebonnets are the state flower of Texas and an annual native Texas flower. The blue wildflowers grow on short flowering spikes and appear in the springtime across much of Texas. The deep blue flower clusters contain 50 pea-sized flowers on stems 1 to 2 ft. (0.3 – 0.6 m) tall.

Texas bluebonnets are heat and drought-tolerant Texas wildflowers that thrive in full sun, making them the perfect choice for planting in Texas gardens. The winter-hardy annual self-seeds so that the attractive blue flowers will return year after year. Ideal for flower borders and containers.

Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)

Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)

Globe amaranth is an annual low growing flowering plant that is suitable as a ground cover for Texas gardens

Common globe amaranth is an annual flowering plant with bright magenta ball-shaped flowers. Unfazed by Texas heat, the deep pink flowers bloom from June until frost in the northern regions of Texas. The low-growing flowers and the leafy green foliage grow 0.5 to 2 ft. (0.15 – 0.6 m) tall.

Globe amaranth flowers thrive as annuals in USDA zones 2 through 11 in full sun and tolerate dry soils. The stunning pink flowers are perfect for adding a burst of vibrant color to your summer gardens throughout Texas. They are excellent plants for borders, beds, pots, or containers, regardless of the dry summer heat in the deep South.

Giant Larkspur (Consolida ambigua)

Giant Larkspur (Consolida ambigua)

The heat and sun loving giant larkspur flowers add a vibrant color to Texas landscapes

Giant larkspur is a vibrant annual flower that survives Texas heat and hours of sunlight. The vibrantly colored flowers grow on erect stems in shades of pale blue, pink, white, or purple. Each flower has four petals and grows 2” (5 cm) across. The tall flowering stems emerge from feathery, fern-like foliage.

Giant larkspur adds a splash of vivid color to sun-drenched gardens without wilting in the heat of Texas. The showy annuals grow 2 to 4 ft. (0.6 – 1.2 m) tall in USDA zones 2 to 11. The colorful, showy flowers are perfect for borders, beds, cottage gardens, or containers.

Outdoor Evergreen Plants For Texas

Evergreens are good outdoor plants for year-round interest and greenery in challenging Texas landscapes. These plants are best for keeping foliage and color throughout the year, providing privacy, shade, and protection from the wind. In addition, many evergreen plants in Texas have attractive summer flowers to add beauty to a landscape.

Here are some of the best evergreen plants for Texas gardens.

Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata)

Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata)

Cape plumbago is a beautiful evergreen heat and sun tolerant climbing plant for central and south Texas

Cape plumbago is a showy, low-maintenance blue or pale purple-flowering shrub or vine perfect for Texas gardens. Identifying features of the Texas plant are its five blue petals in a funnel shape, spoon-shaped leaves, and trailing branches. In southern landscapes, cape plumbago can bloom throughout the year.

Cape plumbago thrives in Central and South Texas in USDA zones 8 to 11. The vining shrub grows 6 to 10 ft. (1.8 – 3 m) tall and wide. It’s drought-tolerant, and its evergreen foliage and lilac-blue flowers offer year-round interest as a shrub, vine, or full sun front yard plant.

Texas Petunia (Ruellia simplex)

Texas Petunia (Ruellia simplex)

The sun loving Texas petunia is a fast growing purple flowering plant that is evergreen in central and south Texas

Texas petunia is a heat-tolerant evergreen flowering plant that adds a vibrant splash of purple, lilac, or lavender color to your Texas garden. The large trumpet-shaped, five-petalled showy flowers come in shades of purple and blue. The flowers have lance-shaped leaves, and the flowering stalks grow 3 ft. (1 m) tall.

Texas petunia flowers bloom continuously throughout summer. Ideal for the heat of the Lone Star State, the purple flowers thrive in USDA zones 8 through 10. Texas petunia grows quickly and is easy to care for.

Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)

Ilex vomitoria Nana

Ilex vomitoria ‘Nana’ (in the picture) is a small cultivar of Yaupon holly and is suitable for small Texas gardens

Dwarf yaupon holly is an evergreen, heat-tolerant shrub for Texas gardens. The shrubby plant is identified by its small, glossy dark green leaves, greenish-white flowers, and clusters of attractive bright, glossy red berries. The yaupon holly shrub is ideal for growing in high heat and humidity and perfect for the hot Texas summers.

Yaupon holly grows 10 to 20 ft. (3 – 6 m) tall and up to 12 ft. (3.6 m) wide. Its dense evergreen foliage makes the shrub ideal as a privacy screen, hedge, windbreak, or specimen plant.

If you want to landscape a small garden, choose the Ilex vomitoria ‘Nana’ cultivar. This small landscaping shrub only grows 3 to 5 ft. (1 – 1.5 m) tall.

Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)

Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)

Autumn sage is a small evergreen flowering shrub that is native to Texas that prefers full sun. In the picture: Salvia greggii ‘Coronado Pink’

Autumn sage is an evergreen, low-maintenance flowering shrub in Texas’s warmer regions. The shrubby plant features beautiful red, pink, purple, yellow, or violet two-lipped flowers that bloom for almost the whole year. The aromatic furry green leaves have a minty fragrance and grow 2” (5 cm) long.

Native to Texas, evergreen autumn sage grows 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall and wide. You can plant the flowering shrub as a low hedge, perennial border, or along a fence line. It’s a drought-tolerant shrub for full sun and dry, well-drained soils.

Wax-Leaf Privet (Ligustrum japonicum)

Wax-Leaf Privet (Ligustrum japonicum)

Wax-leaf privet is an evergreen white flowering shrub that is great for most parts of Texas

Wax-leaf privet is a fast-growing, easy-care evergreen shrub perfect for hot, sunny landscapes in Texas. The attractive features of this ornamental shrub are its glossy green foliage of leaves 4” (10 cm) long, creamy-white flower clusters in the spring and summer, and wine-colored berries in the fall.

Wax-leaf privet is suitable for all regions of Texas, apart from areas north of Lubbock. The shrub’s evergreen, dense foliage is perfect as a natural screen, hedge, or specimen plant in southern landscapes. It grows 6 to 12 ft. (1.8 – 3.6 m) tall.

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