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Shrub suggestions for Houston, Texas ...need help !

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Mar 15, 2014, 07:03 PM
Shrub suggestions for Houston, Texas ...need help !
Our house, near Houston, faces north. We have had so much trouble trying to get some foundation shrubs to grow that can stand the relentless sun exposure, sometimes drought, and then, this year, freezing.

I had some great hummingbird bushes going, which did well during the drought, but now I fear the freeze killed them.

Any suggestions?
Mar 15, 2014, 07:34 PM
What kind of shrubs have you planted that haven't survived? Conifers, spring blooming, hedge type shrubs?

How have you prepared and/or amended the soil where the shrubs are? If the soil is poor, the shrubs really have little chance.

Are you growing anything else that may or may not have struggled to survive? Perennial flowers, veggies? Or is it only shrubs that aren't surviving?

Are you using shrubs for the Houston climate? And how do they succumb to the weather? Do the tips dry out and die first, or do the shrubs die from the roots up? How do you treat them during droughts, specifically watering frequency and whether you're using any deep watering practices?

Given the extensive cold penetration this season from north down to southern areas which shouldn't be shivering during the winter, you might want to consider shrubs for a colder zone - they would be more able to survive any future cold spells. But if your soil is just ordinary soil, that's the first place to start.
Mar 15, 2014, 08:43 PM
What about Texas Sage? It's native to Texas, tolerates drought well and loves the sun. Its blooms are (to me) spectacular, and it makes a great foundation or facer shrub.
Mar 18, 2014, 06:26 PM
Oh...I googled Texas sage and it is very pretty! Might try that.
Mar 20, 2014, 12:41 AM
I looked up the Texas sage too.. Very nice.

GardenSprite... Would it be possible to grow this on the East coast.?
Maybe in a big pot.?
Mar 21, 2014, 02:21 PM

I think you could easily grow Texas Sage either in the ground or in a pot, depending on your specific climatic zone and your winter plans for it, i.e., whether you want to overwinter it, take cuttings and overwinter them in the house, or just start anew with seeds or fresh cuttings from another plant in the spring.

Did a little bit more research to add to that of the article you cited. Texas sage is described alternately as an evergreen shrub and a partly deciduous shrub, by different sources. So it could provide some winter color if it were able to withstand winters in your area. It grows in zones 8 to 11, so if your coastal area is within that range, it seems that you could grow it if you create the sun and soil conditions it needs. I also found that it’s used in seaside plantings. Perhaps the coastal winds help wick away excess moisture?

It would need a well drained location that provided at least 4, 6 or 8 hours of sun daily, depending on which article you read. (Experts don't always agree!)

Soil needs to be alkaline, so you might want to have your soil tested before you try it, especially if you use potting soil mixes in a container.

It apparently is subject to excessive moisture either from rain or overwatering, so you’ll want a well drained site or a pot with good drainage. I get the impression there’s a very specific range of moisture that will prompt blooming but can also stop it. It sounds like some experimentation might be needed to find that range.

This might help in establishing cuttings or growing from seed (which I would likely do if no local cuttings can be obtained.) From what I’ve read, greenwood cuttings should be taken in early summer. (I didn’t find much at my favorite source, Fine Gardening.)

I would use a clay container, the old reddish kind that gardeners have used for years. Make sure it has a good sized drainage hole. I would avoid plastic as it tends to hold moisture. If clay pots aren’t readily available, you might try a thrift store, or if you can’t avoid using plastic, create some aeration holes along the side so the soil can breathe, and create a few holes in the bottom for drainage. You can also add pebbles or small stones to help drainage. How many holes you’ll need will depend on the bottom diameter - I don’t know if there really is a good guideline for this though.

If your container pot is deep, you could add a tube in the center with holes created in the side of the tube. This would allow water to penetrate the soil more evenly than either top or bottom watering. A very makeshift large juice can with several holes created by ice picks would also work - we’ve done that for years in gardens for our squash and pumpkins. The water is delivered to the roots, not the top of the soil where it would tend to draw the roots upward instead of downward.

Hope this helps. Good luck, and post back on what you decide to do and on your success!

As to Eggs' query, I found that Texas Sage is apparently sometimes referred to as Hummingbird sage (Salvia coccinea), which I believe is a different species, but may be what Eggs has grown.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Mar 22, 2014, 11:37 PM
Thanks Garden Sprite...
Unfortunately, my zone is rated at 7a. Do you know what the difference is between 8 and 7a is.?
Mar 22, 2014, 11:52 PM

Here's the USDA Hardiness Zone Map.

The "Average Annual Extreme Minimum Temperature" is the measure by which zone tolerance is gauged. For 7a, it's 0 to 5 degrees Farenheit, but for 8a it's 10 to 10 degrees Farenheit. So 7a would according to these averages likely be too cold for the Texas sage to survive a winter.

However, these are averages, so they could be taken as pretty general guidelines, with some possibility of flexibility, upward or downward. And this past winter, if it's factored into a revised range, would change a lot of the zones. I'm in 6a, but we hit -15 this winter as well as in 1991 or 1992 (one of those years).

I would say that if you want to try Texas sage, make plans to winter it over as I suggested, as it may very well not survive an outdoor winter in your zone.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Mar 23, 2014, 11:39 PM
Thanks Garden Sprite...
But my Green Thumb is actually Brown, when it said no maintenance it got my hopes up.