Enjoy Fall Color, San Antonio Style

You can create your own sensory garden and fall bounty next year by including these autumn standouts in your landscape now.

If you’re new to San Antonio, you’ve probably already realized the landscaping experience is kind of unique. Also distinctive is San Antonio’s fall color.

Some important things to note about your new hometown: Humidity and hot temperatures are facts of life, but it does cool down eventually. And the fall color here is drastically different from that in the Northeast.

Sure, San Antonio does present unique opportunities for gardening. But it helps to know what to plant for a beautiful, colorful landscape that doesn’t cost a fortune to maintain.

Perennial Fall Color

Fall aster boasts bold autumn hues. They may be evergreen shrubs throughout the year, but with the cool weather fall aster explodes with color.

Two members of the Tagetes Family — copper canyon daisy and Mexican mint marigold — likewise save their rich golden yellow flowers for this time of year.

Mistflower begins its show right about now and there are several species to choose from. Bonus: Butterflies can’t seem to get enough nectar from mistflower.

Firecracker plant is a red hot attraction to butterflies, hummingbirds and humans. Granted, it does bloom earlier in the summer, but it somehow finds its brilliance in the fall.

There are three species of Turk’s cap: native Turk’s cap, tropical Turk’s cap and a pink hybrid of the two. All three are moving to optimum flowering.

One of my favorite wildflowers is gayfeather. Its purple spikes are everywhere in the Hill Country.

Fall Color in Trees

Believe it or not, there are trees with fall color in Central Texas. It may be mid-November when they appear, but the color is there every year.

The top four trees for consistent color are: crape myrtlesumacbigtooth maple and Texas red oak aka Spanish oak.

Crape myrtle leaves range from gold to dark red, depending on weather conditions. And all the sumacs including evergreen, prairie, flameleaf and aromatic provide a variety of colors, ranging from bright red to maroon. Bigtooth maple, a relic species from an earlier time, boasts consistent yellow, orange and red hues.

Seasonal Annuals

While many newcomers may forget about cool season plantings during the upcoming holiday season, there are a bevy of colorful cool season annuals. There’s plenty of Ps — petunias, pansies, pinks and primula — and Ss — snapdragons, stocks, Swiss chard, sweet pea and sweet alyssum. My and my late father’s favorite is geranium, especially the old-fashioned bright red selections. Geraniums are definitely a fall and spring San Antonio flower.

Visit Garden Style San Antonio for ideas on water conservation, recommended plants and a review of drought regulations. SAWS also offers free irrigation consultations and WaterSaver Coupons to help you adapt to your new climate.

You will be falling for San Antonio-style color in no time!

Picture of Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson was a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System before retiring. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you're likely to find him hiking San Antonio's wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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