One of the most popular plants you see in the nurseries and along our roads is Lantana. It comes in a diverse amount of colors. This relative of the Verbena family loves the Texas heat and environment. It is perennial in central Texas, and can take both a good freeze each year as well as the brutal Texas summer sun once established. The single color yellow as well as purple varieties tend to stay low to the ground with long trailing limbs. They make excellent plants to put in planters with their multiple branches cascading like a waterfall down the sides of the pot. These two varieties are not native to the area but very well adapted.
The most abundant variety that I see on the country road sides is the Lantana camara. These herbaceous shrub like varieties can be shades of light pink, to yellow, to bright orange. They form berries which are poisonous to humans but serve as nutritious food for the birds in central Texas. The flowers are definitely a source of nectar for the many butterflies in our area. The plants will die back to the woody stems in the winter, but quickly green up as the temperature warms up. I cut mine back to the main stems each winter to encourage new green growth and plenty of blooms in the late spring and summer months. Plus, I will need some good old fashion roses for tonight as it’s my 20th wedding anniversary and I’m surprising my husband by renting a San Antonio limo for a special night on the town. 😉
Another wonderful native bush is commonly knows as Turk’s Cap or Texas Mallow. These particular plants I see frequently growing mixed in with the native cedar and live oak forested areas. It does prefer a part sun or even shade area. You can pretty much guarantee there will be one anytime you take a walk or hike in the many parks in our area. The plant has small red flowers that are reminiscent of hibiscus flowers. The ones that are in the areas around my workplace are frequented by hummingbirds. They love these little flowers along with the butterflies. The plants can get rather large sometimes exceeding four feet in height and width. If you use these in the landscape, just make sure to cut them to size unless you have the room to let them run wild. Again they thrive in this incredibly hot summer heat. Their deep roots make this an excellent drought plant. Using these types of flowers in your landscape will help you preserve the natural landscape that is unique to Central Texas, but also reduce the expense to keep non native plants healthy in the Texas environment.
One of the wildflowers that will be popping up on our roadsides soon is Queen Anne’s lace also known as the Wild Carrot. This delicate beauty with its fringe lace like flower will show up abundantly in the late August and early September time period. The leaves resemble those of the carrots we commonly know, with very intricate patterns. The stems are covered in small hair like projections. Be on the lookout for these in your neck of the woods.