Summer is in full swing in Austin–heat, blooms, heat, blooms. I tire of the heat and humidity, but beautiful native wildflowers thrive in our sticky summers and today is the day to show them off. Thanks to Gail at clay and limestone for hosting and promoting the use of native plants and wildflowers in the home garden.
A few years ago at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s fall native plant sale, I bought a Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta.
It was a total impulse purchase and I’m glad for that particular lack of impulse control! Each spring, this little annual (for me) pops up in a different place in my gardens. This year? It’s on the back patio, keeping the potted bougainvillaea company. I’ll let it seed out this summer and who knows where it will appear next summer.
I must share a photo or two of my wonderful Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea.
The quintessential summer perennial in my gardens, Coneflowers are tough, happy summer flowers. They are great for pollinators and also are terrific as cut flowers indoors, if you’re so inclined.
The Zexmenia, Wedelia texana, began blooming a little late this year, but is in full force now.
Zexmenia is a lovely Texas flowering perennial and performs no matter how hot it is in Austin.
I often pair Zexmenia with Rock Rose, Pavonia lasiopetala, in my gardens.
From morning through mid-afternoon, the combination of the pink Rock Rose and the yellow Zexmenia is pretty and fresh. Both perennials require little water and are favorites of native pollinators. The hibiscus-like flowers of Rock Rose close with the heat mid-afternoon, leaving the yellow Zexmenia to go it alone until the next sunrise.
A few years ago, I collected seeds of Drummond’s Ruellia, Ruellia drummondiana. I caught the first bloom of the season recently.
This ruellia, which isn’t commonly available, doesn’t usually begin blooming fully until mid-to-late summer. I was tickled to see one open early in the growing season. It looks like the ants are happy about that too!
The ‘Henry Duelberg’ Salvia, Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’ still sports its pretty bloom spikes.
It’ll bloom until it’s too hot, then the ‘Henry’ rests, renewing its bloom cycle again with cooler autumn temperatures. I’ll prune the ‘Henry’ to keep it tidy until its fall bloom cycle.
Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus, is an excellent summer bloomer and another favorite of mine.
It’s a superb wildlife plant as well: hummingbirds, bees and butterflies love its bright red blossoms and the birds devour its fruits in the fall. It grows as a thick shrub, so many lizards, birds and insects shelter in it.
The cheerful Engelmann’s Daisy, Engelmannia peristenia, should bloom through mid-summer.
One reason I chose this wildflower for my gardens is that I noticed how many bees visit it in other gardens. That hasn’t been true for this daisy this year and I’m not sure why, but Engelmann’s Daisy is still a bright spot in the garden.
Lastly, this is a nice conglomeration of summer beauties together:
Two native Texas perennials I haven’t profiled today, Damianita, Chrysactinia mexicana, and Rock Penstemon, Penstemon baccharifolius, are blooming in this photo. Usually, the Damianita takes a break in the summer after its profusion of spring blossoms. Rock Penstemon is a hardy summer/fall bloomer.
What native wildflowers are in your garden? For more wildflower goodness from many places, check out clay and limestone and its celebration of June wildflowers.
So many blooms! So many happy pollinators (though I don’t often think of ants as performing that function, obviously they weren’t fooled and knew just what to do). I like that you include plants in combination, as I don’t have any open spaces to host “only one thing”. The idea of tucking something new in between established natives gives me all sorts of room to plan for improved and more varied blooms next year. And isn’t that what we gardeners are usually doing? Looking to next year? Thanks for all the ideas!
Oh, gosh Deb, you’re welcome! It’s been a good year for blooms, though so much of what I have actually performs better when it’s dry. Yes, we’re always thinking about “next year”–this is always the hardest part of the year for me (heat aside). I have an idea (or two or three) about where to move this, or how to add that, and I have to wait until more reasonable temperatures to pull the transplant(s) off successfully, Teaches patience, I keep telling myself!
Wow! So many happy plants. You’ve got the touch. I didn’t know Turk’s cap produced a fruit. That gives me some incentive to add them to my space. Not sure what would make a good companion though. Red can be a tough color to get right in the garden and the shade choices are already so few here. I do have some rock rose and that might look good ….
The fruits usually don’t develop until late summer/fall. I’ve seen Blue jays and mockingbirds at them, though I’m sure other birds eat them as well. I like Rock Rose with Turk’s, also any of the Salvia greggii and most things that are evergreen. Good luck!
The profusion of flowering natives in your photo is the best recommendation for them and most of the ones you list are favorites in my garden too. I’ve decided to give purple coneflower a try since seeing it growing so successfully just about everywhere this year.
I know that you grow many of these same plants–they are great, aren’t they. Good luck with the Coneflowers–such an easy plant to grow, with minimal work.
I probably couldn’t grow most of the wildflowers in your garden, but I like seeing them, I especially like the Rock Rose and would love to grow Ruellia as well.
Thanks Hannah. The beauty of wildflowers is that they are specific to where they evolved and belong–you may not be able to grow mine and I may not be able to grow yours, but they define regions. Every place has its beauty and individual look–that should be celebrated.