gabby(9)June 11, 2013

Anyone from Houston that can help a first time gardener? I've lived in Texas most of my life but haven't had any desire to plant anything,lol. Mostly because of lack of rain and scorching heat.

Well now we live in Houston and I love the rain! Can anyone tell me what is easy to grow and low maintenance. I'm not that committed to gardening yet! :)

I love yellow. I love the flowering trees that are either azelas or crepe myrtls ( I told you I didn't know anything about gardening,lol)

I swore the next house we bought would have a mature yard but that didn't happen, so I'm on my own. DH is as bad as me.

A must have right now are shrubs. The decorative stuff can come later. I would like to get some a tree or two for the back yard later.

Any suggestions? This will have to be done by us, arrgghh.

Thanks in advance, hopefully!

Oh and if anyone wants to drop by and design something would be wonderful, lol!

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Houston Garden Center has their 50% off right now.
Pick up an avocado, a couple of citrus tress and a fig, Now you have an orchard.
Pick up Tecoma-the have the yellow and a gorgeous orange one, great bloomers, drought tolerant, attract butterflies, hummingbirds.

Bamboo if you need to block out neighbors.

Pecan and oak trees for trees that will be Big when mature-good choices to block the west sun. Place away from water lines.
Bananas, crepe myrtles, bird of paradise, ixora, hibiscus, Pride of Barbados, blaze roses, yucca, cactus, for full sun.

Salvia, daylilies, coleus, Mexican heather, potato vine, lemon grass, pink trumpet vine...
I was there today, they have all of those and more, plus tons of palms!
If you can wait another month or so for the really big stuff it will be 70% off, usually the first of July. I have plans to go back and pick up 4 palm trees.

Come to the fall plant swap at Mercer Arboreteum-google Plantmeet. Don`t worry that you have nothing to swap-new gardeners are welcome. Will swap plants for brownies!

Canna are another can`t beat plant here. Vitex are blooming right now-big blue flowers on small trees, kind of look like lilacs. So many,many choices!
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 12:45AM
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Thanks beachplant, I'm off to look at pics of everything you mentioned. Is there a really good one that can be used as a shrub for in front of the house?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 4:56AM
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Ray_Scheel(z8b/SS31 E. TX)

if you plant bamboo, put in an appropriate barrier all around it, as it can quickly get out of control and destructive.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 12:28PM
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buy clumping bamboo and you won`t have that problem.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 2:09PM
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Dwarf yaupons are excellent green shrubs that will look nice year round. They have a pretty natural shape and are easy to care for.

Salvias, lantana, dwarf oleanders, crepe myrtles, and vitex will give you color for most of the year.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 10:52PM
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Thanks Michele, I'll Google the shrubs you suggested.

We had a guy come give us a free estimate/design and this is what he suggested. Plumbagos, I think for the shrubs. Something was a ground cover. Here's the names of plants he suggested.

natal plum
icy blue yew
day lily

After looking them up, I wasn't really that impressed with most of them.

Do those all seem low maintenance, hardy, color all year?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 11:26AM
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ixora are boring bushes when not in bloom, landscapers love them. I hate natal plums myself, another boring, popular with landscapers ie:cheap, green shrub. It has thorns too. Day lilies are OK but only bloom once a year,then boring green foliage or dormant. Landscapers have no imagination. I don`t know if icy blue yew survives down here, or even what it is for that matter. Hate the yew trees we have. Hate them.
Lysimacha if you want to pull that weed out of your yard for the rest of time.

you are right, that is one unimpressive list of plants, with all that grows so well down here why stick with boring I can see it in the parking lot at the mall plants?
Tally Ho!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 3:57PM
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Hi there! I'm a beginner gardener myself. I've been doing a TON of reading and trying to educate myself and so far, feel I have most of the basics down. I'm on my own as well. All the planning, planting and care is left to me but I'm enjoying it! Gardening can be very relaxing!

I lived in Houston for 6 years (Sugar Land). Our yard was boring but needed little to no maintenance. I agree with the previous posts about the bamboo. Very invasive, clumping bamboo less so, but personally, I'd recommend putting it in planters on a deck or patio so it isn't even an issue. I second the hibiscus suggestion. Pretty blooms and easy to care for from what I've read. I also second Michele's post. I like the Yaupon hollies. Smaller leaves than the ones with spine-y corners. They grow slowly but are VERY low maintenance. Sometimes you see them sheared into shapes but I'm not personally a fan of that.

Although they're perennials, I've had success with Angelonia in pots. I have 2 "serena" and 1 "archangel" (taller) and they bloom beautifully. Colors of pink, purple and white. I've also really liked my abelia "Edward Goucher". Those shrubs are described as "semi-evergreen" here in DFW. I'm assuming they'd definitely be evergreen in Houston. I love them. Tough, don't need much pruning, like plenty of sun and interesting to look at. I like the way in which the branches grow. The texture they provide looks sort of "whirl-y" if that makes any sense. Ha!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 8:20PM
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abelia is usually zone 5-9, as with most plants with those ratings they do OK in zone 9. The more north parts of Houston will do better with these then the southern parts. They don`t like humidity either so that can be a factor for us.

Take awalk around your neighborhood and see what is growing and thriving there, that will give you some ideas.

Come to the local swaps.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 2:20PM
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Ah yes. I do recall being told abelias do well here. Operative word being "here". So probably not the best choice for Houston's humidity (which I miss).

Here's a link to the Aggie horticulture site that lists recommended plants for southeast Texas, including Beaumont and Houston:

Despite my inexperience with gardening, I have found that picking up books and reading websites and forums on gardening has been extremely helpful. My local bookstore has a section just for gardening in north Texas. Many of them cover things like how to properly plant a shrub or tree to watering practices to pruning, etc. I'm in the same boat as you, a beginner, on my own and starting with evergreen shrubs as the "bones" of my garden and adding the pretty stuff later. Maybe I can't recommend some plants but pick an area in your garden to start with, figure out how much sun it gets in a full day and what kind of soil you have, then google the terms. Not just in a search engine but do a website search of GardenWeb, Garden Guides, Dave's Garden, National Gardening Association (garden.org). Those have been extremely helpful for me.

And beachplant's advice is awesome. I was given the same advice and it's a great way to form some ideas, see what's working in your area, a jumping off point. Any plants you like but can't ID, snap a pic (if you can) and take it to your local nursery.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 3:13PM
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plantloverkat zone 9a north Houston(zone 9a)

Beachplant's advice to walk around your neighborhood to see what is growing well there is great. Houston covers a large area, and while the climate is pretty similar throughout, the soil can vary from clay to rather sandy. It is best to figure out what kind of soil you have so that you can choose the plants that will do well in that type of soil.

If it is not too far from where you live, I'd suggest a visit to the Mercer Arboretum. Many of the plants there have labels to help you identify them so you can figure out what the plants you like are called.
Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens
22306 Aldine Westfield Road
Humble, Texas 77338-1071
Phone: 281-443-8731

Half Price Books often has a good assortment of gardening books. When I moved here 10 years ago, I picked up a copy of "A Garden Book For Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast" there, and I found it to be very helpful. The River Oaks Garden Club has just put out a new edition of this book which appears to be quite a bit larger, so I am sure that you could find the old one very inexpensively if you didn't want to purchase the new one. You should also be able to find it at your local library as well.

I would shy away from bamboo - even the clumping kind which turns into massive clumps over many years. I spent several years removing over 100 feet of it in my yard (half running and half clumping). I still have to deal with the running type coming into my yard from the neighbor's yard.

I like both the dwarf yaupon hollies and the larger growing ones. The larger ones are usually pruned up as small trees, and there are several commonly found named varieties such as Pride of Houston, Paco's and Saratoga Gold. Crepe Myrtles are also good all over Houston. Salvis, Mexican heather, Katie ruellia, pentas, zinnias are all easy plants for color. I also have found that coleus can provide a lot of color, although some varieties seem to love my yard while other varieties dwindle away.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 5:21PM
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Careful with Crepe Myrtles...although very pretty, they are high maintenance and very invasive. I planted artichokes near the Crepe Myrtle and the Crepe will send up tree like shoots from the bottom that will choke out any nearby plant, and must constantly be trimmed back. I like for trees to be multi purpose and low maintenance and Crepe Mrytle is not it!

If you are into edible landscaping...try pecan tree, dwarf peach tree, thornless blackberry bush, Jerusalem Artichokes, Tree Collards, Rosemary, lemongrass, Okra, Artichokes, Kale, Pink Chard. All very ornamental, relatively low maintenance in our climate, and edible!

I have a few videos on my YouTube channel if you want to get some ideas for edible, urban landscaping in Houston. Channel: Gama Garden

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 7:38PM
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