4 bold, beautiful plants that won’t die -- unless you really try -- in your Houston-area garden

HOUSTON – If you get overwhelmed at the idea of beautifying your backyard plants, we’re going to keep this easy.

  • Houston is in Zone 9a of the USDA Hardiness Zone map. If you’re a little north of the city, you’re in 8b. What does that mean? If you’re looking at stickers on the flowering plants at local garden centers, you want to stay with a plant that lives and thrives in those zones. If your garden center is worth its salt, it’ll sell you plants that already do, but you just need to be aware that not everyone carries the plants best suited for the area you’re in.
  • It’s important to note that fertilizer and water are your friend when you’re planting. Always follow the directions on the plant tag, but generally in Houston, and in the first year of your plant, you really need to keep an eye on the fertilization and hydration of your plants to make sure they take root and thrive in the area where they’re planted.
  • Dig a big-enough hole for your plant to live in the ground or larger container. That little diagram showing you how to dig a hole twice the diameter of your plant’s container is important. I’ve killed plenty of plants by digging too shallow. I watched a beautiful boxwood die a slow death for a year because I was too busy to dig the massive hole it really needed.

Here are some of my favorite plants for growing in your Houston-area garden.

Amaryllis. These are bulbs. Put them in a sunny spot and see them come up every year with stunningly beautiful blooms. Very little maintenance is needed. It’s a good idea to fertilize, but not absolutely necessary.

Sandra19 shared this on SnapJAX: "Spring is in the air... amaryllis, so pretty!"

Gardenia. These are fragrant, pretty blooms on a small bush to start (or large if you’re willing to drop some cash). These perennials are hardy and can live through pretty extreme weather, from crazy hot sun to extreme cold. I would recommend watering regularly through the first year and using a covering in the winter months when temperatures dip into the freezing realm.

Gardenia stock photo (Pixabay)

Hosta. These things take root and won’t quit. They’re hardy and perennial and relatively inexpensive. I like to fill in spaces between the big, eye-catching plants with these.

A stock image of a hosta plant. (Pixabay)

Hydrangea. Just beautiful. If you tend to them -- meaning you give them a lot of water and semi-shade in the hot hours of the Houston day -- you’ll have some awesome blooms throughout the summer. Be sure to cut them back as needed for fresh blooms. At the end of fall, cut most varieties down to the ground for a bigger footprint each year of the plant’s development. There are some great online options for purchasing if you shudder at those prices at the garden center in early spring.

What other plants do you love that thrive in the Houston area? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.