The semi-arid climate in Midland and Odessa mean the sun burns bright and water is scarce. So how’s a homeowner to keep their West Texas landscaping from looking like a dry wasteland?
By making smart choices about the plants and trees they put there. Those that are well acclimated to places like Ector and Midland counties can thrive, even in difficult conditions.
Here’s a roundup of perennials, groundcovers, shrubs, shade trees, ornamental grasses, and ornamental trees that will look beautiful year-round.
Pincushion flower (Scabiosa columbaria):
Get year-round color with the pincushion flower, pictured above in butterfly blue. It blooms all months of the year, except January, with blue, lavender, pink, and white options available. It’s a full sun perennial with medium water requirements.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbekia hirta fulgida ‘Goldstrum’):
Attract butterflies to your garden with the black-eyed Susan, a delightful, four-inch yellow-black flower that blooms June to September. The plant grows up to three feet tall with low to medium water requirements.
Bowles mauve wallflower (Erysimum species ‘Bowles Mauve’):
This bushy perennial has gray-green foliage and blooms continuously April to November, bringing nearly year-round pink and lavender color to your yard. The Bowles mauve wallflower grows up to three feet tall, and has low water requirements.
Stonecrop (Sedum sp.):
If deer are a concern, then look to stonecrop, which is unpopular with these four-legged garden destroyers. It blooms red and bronze June to August and is happy in full sun with low water needs.
Ice plant (Delosperma cooperi):
This creeping groundcover is full sun and requires little water, making it great for West Texas lawns. It blooms pink, orange, and purple May through December and is evergreen, meaning it looks green and lush all year round (it is pictured at the top of this post).
Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans):
A popular, spreading groundcover, bugleweed blooms April to June with blue flowers and six-inch spikes in early spring. It’s a partial-shade plant with medium water requirements.
Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens):
This lovely evergreen shrub is a Texas native with silver, gray, and green foliage and lavender and blue blooms May through September that attract garden-friendly bees. It’s a slow-growing plant, taking up to two years to become fully established and bloom reliably. But once that time passes, Texas Sage is quite drought tolerant, with few additional water needs. It also blooms after a good rainstorm (but don’t try to trick it into blooming by watering the plant heavily—it won’t work). This shrub can grow to six feet tall, and blooms get stronger over the years.
Spanish broom (Spartium junceum):
Spanish broom has fragrant, yellow blooms April to June, and can be brought into bloom with selective pruning. This evergreen shrub is full sun and requires low water, making it low maintenance and easy.
Firethorn (Pyracantha coccina):
The upright, bushy firethorn blooms with white flowers May to June and August to October, with pea-sized, red-and-orange berries. Firethorn requires full sun and medium water, growing eight to ten feel tall.
Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum):
An extremely long-lived deciduous tree, the bald cypress grows well in all soils. The foliage is feathery light and green, turning cinnamon brown in fall months. It can grow up over 100 feet tall, and its unusual look is eye pleasing all year round.
Western soapberry (Sapindus drummondii):
This native Texas tree grows up to 35-feet tall and blooms white in May. The Western soapberry attracts birds and butterflies, turning yellow in the fall with orange, translucent berry clusters.
Variegated Japanese silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’):
This ornamental grass is white striped and offers an excellent was to lighten a dominantly green landscape. It can grow up to six feet tall, and blooms September to November, with full sun and medium requirements year round.
Lindheimer’s Muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri):
This highly attractive Texas native bunchgrass has arching green leaves with silvery golden plumes of feathers in the fall. It is a striking addition to any garden, growing two to five feet fall. It’s a full sun-partial shade plant, with medium water requirements.
Rose of Sharon/Althea (Hibiscus syriacus):
The Rose of Sharon blooms white, pink, and purple June to September, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. It grows up to ten feet tall, with a 15-foot spread, requiring low water.
Chitalpa (X Chitalpa tashkentensis):
A tough, drought tolerant tree, the Chitalpa has an unusual gray, slightly ridged and furrowed bark. It blooms white and pink May through July with a plant height of up to 30 feet, and has low water requirements.
Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima):
Get a tropical look in your yard with the bird of paradise, a small, shrubby tree with lacy foliage that blooms yellow, orange, and red April to September. It needs a sunny spot with well-drained soil, but requires little water to stay healthy. This ornamental tree attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and grows up to ten feet tall.