Weekly Express-News Article
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
“Summer Blooming Shrubs”
Last summer we thought it would never stop raining, and
this year it seems like it will never rain again. That is the normal pattern for
drought-tolerant, root hardy shrub with attractive light green foliage. In warmer zones, the plant will make a small
tree, but in
“Texas Gold” esperanza is the version that most nurseries now sell. I describe the “Texas Gold” variety as a blooming machine because it is an improved selection that begins blooming when the shrub is very small and keeps blooming as the shrub grows to seven or eight feet tall. One year the nursery trade even offered esperanza as a hanging basket. The rooted cuttings at one foot tall filled the container with blooms. The bloom does benefit if you cut off the small seed pods as they form.
Esperanza blooms in flushes like lantanas or bougainvillea. To keep the bloom heavier and more constant all summer, deadhead off the spent flowers and miniature seed heads.
Poinciana is even more drought-tolerant than esperanza. It has glow in the dark orange/yellow blooms that are favored by butterflies and hummingbirds. Unfortunately, the deer do eat poinciana. Like esperanza the stalks die back each winter and begin growth again in April. Poinciana has an airy growth habit. It also benefits from deadheading. Poinciana reaches eight or nine feet tall every growing season.
Firebush is often described as the favorite hummingbird plant in our area. Once it begins its bloom period in May, the birds in your neighborhood will find their way to the nickel-size tubular red flowers on the firebush. The blooms cover the entire plant, but firebush also is desirable because of its red bronzed foliage and disciplined growth habit. The plants will be about four feet around and six feet tall.
esperanza and poinciana, firebush is very drought-tolerant. At the
In the autumn after the first cold wave the foliage turns a purple red. Use firebush as a hummingbird attracting container plant. In a three-gallon container it forms an attractive globe-shaped shrub of about three feet around. The plant has a fibrous root system so in a container situation it loses its drought-tolerance. Expect to water it in that situation every two or three days.
is relatively new to the
Duranta produces a large crop of yellow berries that hang on the stems all winter. They are attractive in themselves and look like they should be a desirable bird berry, but do not seem to be a favorite food source. They are eaten well after the hackberries, pyracantha, and hollies and sometime before the nandinas.
Vitex is drought-tolerant, deer-proof, and does seem to have an insect or disease problems.