Shirley Campbell

Master Gardeners

When you are reading gardening articles and how to be successful with your gardens, you always come across “use native and adapted plants.”  Why?  And what are they?  Native and adapted plants are easier care. They flourish in our hot, frequently dry, Texas climate.  They are mostly insect and disease free and require less or no fertilization and water once established.

As a master gardener, we hold yearly state conferences where we attend classes and learn the latest and the best in the plant world. Recently I attended a lecture by Steven Chamblee, Chief Horticulturist of the Chandor Gardens in Weatherford.  Steven also writes an entertaining monthly column in Neil Sperry’s e-gardens newsletter. His trademark “Texas road trips” articles involve studying native plants. Who better can give us an outstanding list of native and adapted plants?  Here are his top 50.

Texas Tough Top 50

Native Texas and Well-Adapted Species

Steven L. Chamblee, Chief Horticulturist, Chandor Gardens, Weatherford

Top Annuals

• Coconut Cream Viola (Viola cornuta ‘Coconut Cream/Swirl’)

• Zinnia (Zinnia elegans ‘Profusion’ & ‘Zahara’ series)

• Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana)

• Ornamental Pepper (Capsicum spp. ‘Black Pearl’)

• Pentas (Pentas lanceolata)

• Sun Coleus (Coleus x hybridus ‘Plum Parfait,’ ‘Burgundy Sun’ )

• Castor Bean (Ricinus communis )

• Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus, C. bipinnatus)

Top Perennials

• Four Nerve Daisy (Hymenoxys scaposa)

• Purpleheart (Setcreasea pallida)

• Iris (Iris germanica & cultivars)

• Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

• Ox-Eye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum) Shasta Daisy (C. x superbum)

• Gregg’s Mist Flower (Eupatorium greggii) The Butterfly Magnet

 • Powis Castle Artemisia (Artemisia x ‘Powis Castle’)

 • Lantana (Lantana camara ‘Dallas Red,’ ‘New Gold’)

• Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia )

Top Groundcovers

• Mountain Pea/Sampson’s Snakeroot (Orbexylum pedunculatum)

• Liriope (Liriope muscari and cultivars, not Liriope spicata)

Mondograss (Ophiopogon japonicus)

• English Ivy (Hedera helix)

• Japanese Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)

Top Ornamental Grasses

• Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris; ‘Regal Mist’)

• Maidengrass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’)

• Variegated Maidengrass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatum’)

• Hardy Sugarcane (Saccharum arundinaceum)

• Bullgrass (Muhlenbergia emersleyi)

• Lindheimer’s Muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri)

Top Shrubs

• Autumn/Cherry Sage (Salvia greggii; many cultivars)

• Dwarf Burford Holly (Ilex cornuta ‘Burfordii Nana’)

• Nandina (Nandina domestica; dwarf ‘Compacta’)

• Abelia (Abelia grandiflora; dwarf ‘Edward Goucher’)

• Japanese Boxwood (Buxus japonica)

• Cenizo/Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens /green form ‘Green Cloud’)

• Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis; ‘Arp’ is most cold hardy)

• Chinese Fringeflower (Loropetalum chinense; ‘Purple Pixie’ ‘Purple Diamond’)

Top Trees

• Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria )

• Possumhaw (Ilex decidua)

• Texas Redbud (Cercis texensis ‘Oklahoma’; C. mexicana)

• Goldenball Leadtree (Leucaena retusa)

• Eve’s Necklace (Sophora affinis )

• Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum); straight species is toughest

• Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Natchez,’ ‘Muskogee,’ ‘Tuscarora’)

• Lacey Oak (Quercus laceyi/glaucoides)

• Live Oak (Coastal-Quercus virginiana/Escarpment- Q. fusiformis )

• Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)

• Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum)

Top Roses

• Knock Out

• Belinda’s Dream

• Carefree Beauty (Katy Road Pink)

Top Vines

• Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

• Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans, dwarf ‘Madame Galen’)

• Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)

• Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

• Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila)

Top Accent Plants

• Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)

• Beaked Yucca (Yucca rostrata)

• Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)

• Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica)

• Hojo Santa (Piper auritum)

Ask for these Texas tough plants at your local nursery and enjoy more leisure time admiring your beautiful garden.

Shirley Campbell is an Ellis County Master Gardener, vegetable gardening specialist and guest columnist in the Daily Light. For further information, contact the Ellis County Master Gardeners at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, 701 South Interstate 35E, Suite 3, Waxahachie, or call 972-825-5175 or e-mail: