container perennials for hot texas sun

anchita(Bay area, CA)March 31, 2006

Hi everyone,

I'm a newbie here, and to gardening. I do have some houseplants, but I wouldn't call myself a gardener. Hopefully, that'll change this season :-)

I'm in north Texas and am looking to grow perennials in containers on my patios. I have two concrete patios in my first floor apartment, one facing west with full sun, and another facing south with partial shade from a tree. I was wondering if growing perennials in pots would be advisable in these two areas, considering the blistering Texas summer. Is it even the right time of year for it, or should I wait till fall? What are some of the plants that might succeed in this environment? Are there specific threads/websites/books you can point me to that can be of help to a beginner such as myself?

I'm so thankful to have discovered these forums.. I've received great advice in the Texas forum regarding annuals (and have asked this question in that thread too.) I've also been learning a lot by reading current and older threads. Thanks for creating (and sustaining) such a fountain of knowledge and enthusiasm!


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As far as perennials, the list would be almost endless. Some of the easier plants would be columbine, lantana and autumn sage--all of these take the heat very well. Columbine is a good one for the shade. Many houseplants are actually quite heat tolerant (being from the tropics) and will benefit from the extra sunlight outdoors--you would have to bring them in for the winter. Do you like roses? I grow them in containers with great success, as well as daylilies. Your choices are really only limited by what you want to grow.

You can certainly plant a container garden now. Fall planting is best for plants going in the ground, since they can establish over the winter, but this isn't really relevant for container growing--the plants are in a container at the nursery right now after all.

The only warning I have is that you will have to water containers EVERY DAY in the summer, unless you go the cactus route.

A great website is
(that site and gardenweb could keep you busy for years)

Neil Sperry's Texas Gardening is a must have book, and his website has a lot of good information.

...and definitely visit North Haven Gardens in Dallas for great plants.

The fact you've decided to do some research and ask questions will definitely be a benefit in your gardening endeavors--most of us murder quite a few plants before we figure out what to do.

Good luck, Anchita. I'll leave you with a link to recommended perennials for Texas.


Here is a link that might be useful: Perennials for Texas

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 6:39AM
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anchita(Bay area, CA)

Hi Jason,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply and guidance.

Between the plants you've recommended and those on the TAMU website, there are so many beautiful ones to choose from! I'm also going to check out Sperry's book from the library today. With these and a likely visit to the North Haven Gardens over the weekend, maybe I should ask my husband to come along for some restraint and sanity ;-)

I've had my share of mistakes even with houseplants (and some herbs I tried - and fried - last summer,) and I want to start small and few this time so that I emphasize care and learning more than numbers... which is easier said than done! I'll post more as I go along, both with questions and my endeavors...

I'm sure I'll face growing pains as I progress :-) but it sure is nice to have experienced and encouraging people to turn to, especially when one is starting at square one.

I appreciate your time and patience with a beginner...


    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 3:11PM
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anchita(Bay area, CA)

I checked out a few books from the library (including Neil Sperry's Texas Gardening, which I'm planning to buy) and visited the beautiful North Haven Gardens that Jason had suggested, and now I'm the proud - but somewhat scared - owner of a Wood Fern, a Japanese Holly Fern, two Salvias (one is S. gregii and the other is unknown,) two types of Sedum, a Coral Bells and a Coreopsis...

All of these are tiny -- in little 4" plastic 'starter' type containers. I realize now that single, small plants for the last two might not make much sense, as they're primarily grown for their flowers, but well... if I can just keep them alive this season, I'll consider it a success. I'm not very confident about the ferns either; for some reason, I have this impression of ferns being "delicate" plants. Of course, it is my first experience with Sedum and Salvia too, but I've heard good things about them, especially regarding Texas weather.

I do realize that having such small plants - while it proved economical - might also present a lot of problems as they'll be quite sensitive to the vagaries of their environment.

I'll appreciate any comments/suggestions you might have for me regarding the care and quirks of these plants. Like I said, I'm somewhat nervous, but tremendously excited too!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 6:13PM
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Anchita, Your concern about your hot Texas sun may be a valid one but is a very good reason why you should make a point of always buying locally grown, locally hardy plants.
These are the ones that have been developed for just such environment.
I only mention a couple of plants---not from experience, but from having read about Texas plants;
Crepe Mrtle always comes to the fore...this plant has many forms and uses and one is especially good for containers.
I tried and tried to buy one or a dozen, here in Ontario...with no luck. Of course, it wouldn't survive one winter.
Nandina is also very much in demand evidently in your part of the world.
Yaupon Holly is another and liriope and mondo grass are two groundcovers that you might consider. about that....everything I've read about this plant is "don't plant it in your garden."..not because it isn't a nice is, I have one in a pot used as a houseplant which I put outside during our summer and its a very nice plant. NO, the reason why many people in southern climes don't like it is because pretty soon the roots begin to speak chinese....they go that deep.
Its a beggar to try to dig out---the advice is YOU CANT.
Now maybe in Texas, you can plant this one in a container and not worry about how deep the roots go.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 7:02PM
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anchita(Bay area, CA)

Hi Caroldiane,

Thanks for your suggestions, and sorry about the delay in getting back. Your advice about locally grown and hardy plants is a very sound one. I do (and will) try to find plants that are native or well-adapted to my location. But sometimes, I also see myself following an impulse and thinking later :-) Or wanting a specific plant badly enough to bear with its special needs.

I've realized that learning more about plants and gardening not only increases the chance of success, it is also a very enjoyable activity as such.

I appreciate your suggestions about the specific plants. I love crepe myrtles and will look for a shorter variety that's suitable for a container. I see Nandina everywhere here, but mostly as a hedge or shrub. I had never thought of it as a container plant. Oleander is pretty too, but somehow I don't feel very comfortable having it because of its poisonous nature. Right now, I don't have a suitable space for groundcover, but I'll keep these in mind for later.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 6:52PM
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