In my last post, I’m mentioned I’m a wanna-be gardener! While I am not convinced I have a green thumb, I absolutely love the challenge of growing beautiful plants. When we lived in Chicago, I had a roof top container garden that made me proud. I was able to get beautiful, lush pots of flowers with little effort. You can see some photos of my rooftop garden here and here. However, since we moved to San Antonio five years ago I have really questioned my gardening capabilities. The long hot summers and random pests make it seriously challenging!
I’ve managed to kill a lot of plants over the last several years, but through all my trial and error I have discovered a handful of plants I can reliably grow. In case you live in a similar climate, I thought it would be fun to give you a peek into my container garden, and share my top 10 favorite plants to grow in South Texas!
Just a caveat that these plants may not work for everyone, and I’m sure there are lots of others that people can grow well here. Also, I am by no means a gardening expert – these are just the ones I tend to come back to year after year!
My Top 8 Favorite Plants to Grow in South Texas
This pretty flowering plant is a tough one. It seems to handle 100 degree days with ease and isn’t a favorite of the typical pests in my yard like snails and aphids. As long as vinca has enough sun, it will provide you with pretty pink, red or white blooms all year round. If it isn’t flowering, it probably needs more sun. I like to grow my flowers in pots instead of the ground because it gives me more flexibility to move them around my yard as needed. I’m frequently switching up pots to create a different look!
You’re going to see begonia in a lot of yards in Texas, and there is a good reason for it. It is practically indestructible and grows well in the sun and shade. I have begonia planted in multiple spots around the yard. It is the one flower I can plant in the ground that doesn’t die! The snails do like to eat the leaves though, so I do have to scatter some snail bait around them regularly.
Begonia flowers typically come in pink, red, and white, and each of their leaves are different shades. The red begonia with dark leaves is my favorite. If their leaves start too look dull and lose color, it means that the begonia needs water! I also like to pinch off some of the growth regularly to help them grow nice and full and keep them from getting too leggy.
I grew a ton of coleus on my roof deck in Chicago, and it remains a go-to in my San Antonio garden! If I had to name my most favorite plant of all, it would be coleus. Instead of a flower, it is a gorgeous leafy plant that comes in beautiful shades of greens, reds, and yellows. You can see it below in these tall planter boxes I have on my front porch. Coleus used to only do well in the shade, but now they make several sun and heat tolerant varieties that do very well in the sun.
I love coleus for adding color to the garden. By mid summer in Texas many flowers can stop blooming because it is just too hot, but coleus will keep its color all summer long. Just keep it watered at least every other day and move it to a shadier area during the hottest months. Its leaves will droop after lots of direct sun, but it will revive itself!
The other reason I love coleus is that you can pinch off some leaves and put them in a vase of water and they will re-root in a couple weeks, giving you another coleus plant to add to your garden. I do this frequently and use coleus to fill in gaps where I’ve killed other plants – ha! Pinching off leaves from time to time helps the plants grow fuller too.
Similar to coleus, caladium is another foliage plant with beautiful multicolored leaves. Its heart-shaped leaves on skinny stems are a great way to add color and height to a flower pot. It also looks nice as a landscaping plant. I have three plants growing in our front lawn that are doing great. This particular variety can tolerate a good deal of sun.
This is a new-to-me flower. I added the first one to my garden last year and fell in love. This lush tropical plant does not mind the heat and produces pretty flowers in the hottest part of summer. It is also a climbing plant. I’m in the process of trying to guide mine up our patio railing. It can’t withstand the cold winter temps here in San Antonio though, so if you want to keep your mandevilla untill next year you’ll have to bring it inside over the winter.
6. Boston Ferns
I have my mom to thank for this one! She always had boston ferns hanging in baskets on her front porch in Nebraska, but I didn’t know they would do well here too. I planted this one in part shade on our patio. I transplanted it from the plastic hanging pot it came in to a large pot and it has grown like crazy! Just keep it watered regularly and it will look great for the entire summer.
Succulents come in all shapes and sizes, and you’ll find plenty of them at nurseries here in Texas. They can add some fun texture to your container garden and are real champs in the heat and sun as long as you water them regularly and give them good drainage.
8. Ornamental Grasses
Grasses are another favorite plant for making a big impact in a container. I am not sure of the name of this grass below, but I have used purple fountain grass in the past as well. They are an easy, low-maintenance way to add some height and interest to your garden.
If you live in Texas, what are some of your favorite plants to grow? I’d love some new suggestions!