Shrubs recommended by the master gardener include Nandina, Loropedulm, Indian Hawthorn, Azaleas, Camellias, Elyangnus, Desert Willow, Various Hollies, and Forsythia. Crape Myrtle grows in a variety of colors and sizes, and is very popular and colorful in the area.
For those desiring to provide yards with some shade, the following trees are all conducive to area plantings: Red Maple, Shumard oak, Cherry-bard oak, Japanese Black Pine, Bald cypress, Weeping willow, Dogwood and Black Walnut.
Some yards have spots where grass and bedding plants refuse to grow. In those cases, ground covers are often planted.
“The reasons for planting ground covers are numerous. They are used to cover large areas to add interest and texture to the landscape, to cover problem spots where not much else will grow, and to hold soil on slopes to prevent erosion. Most commonly in East Texas, ground covers are used to cover shady areas where grass will not grow. Many ground covers are low maintenance which has its own benefits. None require mowing. When choosing a ground cover, care should be taken to determine the shade/sun needs of the plant and watering needs. Many are drought-tolerant,” Moak said.
Some plants she recommends that do well in East Texas and tolerate shade are Ajuga, English Ivy, Ferns, Liriope/ Mondograss (commonly known as “Monkey Grass,”) fig ivy, pigmy bamboo, Vinca Major, Boston Ivy.and Pachysandra. Plants that thrive in the sun and will tolerate some shade are Asiatic Jasmine, Juniper, Japanese Sweet Flag, Sedum and Golden Oregano.
For all plantings, Moak advised considering the plant’s needs.
“If the plant needs sun, don’t plant in full shade or vice versa. Also consider the growth habit of the plants. Don’t place tall plants in front of short ones as the tall plant will hide the shorter plants and could shade the plant out,” she said.
“The water needs of the plants should also be considered. Placing a low need water plant next to a high need water plant will lead to plant failure. Group like water need plants together and provide the appropriate water for the plant needs. Care should be taken to read the recommended planting guide (depth, spacing, sun requirements) at the time of purchase, or through internet/book research before planting.”
Rodney Williams of Williams Plant Farm in New Summerfield said the difference between annuals and perennials has to do with the plants’ tolerance for freezing temperatures.
“Perennials go dormant, but can handle the cold weather,” he said. explaining that annuals exposed to freezing temperatures and biting winds won’t survive, and that’s why they are raised in greenhouses with constant temperatures.
Williams agreed with Moak that plant needs should be considered before planting.
“Make sure the soil is okay for annuals, de-weed, plant and water,” he said, “using a slow-release fertilizer.
“In hot weather, water every day and fertilize about every three waterings.”