It’s tough gardening in Central Texas, between severe drought, extreme heat, low humidity, shallow soils with alkaline limestone substructure not conducive to moisture retention, weed seed proliferation, did I mention hail and severe storms, etc, etc. I’m sure that newcomers to Austin trade one set of gardening problems for another but Central Texas requires plants that can endure all of the above.
Using native and adaptive plants, going to more xeriphytic landscapes are two widely mentioned and smart approaches, but there is nothing like trial and error to find out which specific plants are tough enough to meet the gardening challenges Central Texas provides.
I have begun a program to eliminate plants that can’t handle it in our gardens, taking into account microclimate areas that might allow a particular plant to grow well in one specific location.
Being a plant collector by nature, I need to be careful to separate desire for an attractive plant from the reality of being able to grow it well in our challenging environment. If I feel it stands a chance based on research, I will give it a test run and if it doesn’t do well after two years, it’s outta here!
My best advice to fellow gardeners in Central Texas is to plant an “intentional” garden, knowing in advance based on research and local experience and advice of other gardeners, which plants you will place in your garden, then seek them out specifically by botanical name to make sure you have the right plant. Too many people go to a nursery and let their eyes and emotions govern what they buy, only to be disappointed. Impulse buying can waste money and disappoint the gardener. Unfortunately, too many nurseries stock according to the consumers visual reaction to a plant, not what is best for local gardens. So, buyer beware!
Remember on these hot, dry days, the plants in your garden can’t sit in air conditioned comfort like you but must endure the extremes of the Central Texas environment. Plant well and sit back in your air conditioned home and enjoy seeing a garden that takes care of itself, endures, needs little attention from you to grow well and look good even in the toughest of conditions.