Be On the Lookout for the Indestructibles

Mark Peterson

While browsing the landscapes along the WaterSaver Landscape Tour, take note of some common plants in San Antonio landscapes.

Though not exclusive or rare, these indestructibles present super powers when planted and established correctly. They’re virtually indestructible, making them a must for every landscape.

Keep your eyes peeled for:

Vines

  • Mandevilla (Mandevilla spp.) — This restrained growing vine with pink trumpet-shaped flowers appreciates the sun and tolerate a little shade. It’s typically just kept as a potted specimen and thrown out at the end of the year, but it’s actually cold hardy to 40 degrees.
  • Evergreen wisteria (Milletia reticulata) — Its vibrant purple flowers bloom from mid-summer until the first freeze.

Groundcovers

  • Woolly stemodia (Stemodia lanata) — This silver-gray groundcover with tiny purple flowers loves the heat and sun, but loathes lots of water.
  • Black-foot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) — An evergreen groundcover with a multitude of white flowers, blackfoot daisy will slowly die if over-watered.
  • Creeping germander (Teucrium chamaedrys) — One of five fantastic groundcovers for the intensely hot “inferno strip” between the curb and sidewalk. It has small, light lavender flowers and silver gray foliage.
  • Silver ponyfoot (Dichodra argentea) — Another top five groundcover, ponyfoot prefers full sun areas, but tolerates slight shade. It’s tough enough to endure year after year and spreads quite a bit, despite its delicate appearance.
  • Ajuga (Ajuga reptans) — All of the previous groundcovers are full sun, but ajuga definitely requires shade. One downside: deer find it quite appetizing.

Shrubs

  • Hoja santa (Piper auritum) — Also known as root beer shrub, hoja santa is ideal for dark corners or large containers. When crushed, the leaves have a delightful root beer smell and the slender white flowers are present from late spring to fall. This plant has many culinary and medicinal properties.
  • Agaves (Agave spp.) — A family of succulents that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Agaves do best in full sun with little to no supplemental water. The best use of agaves is as strategic focal points in the landscape where you want to draw attention or dissuade entry.
  • Goldenball leadtree (Leucaena retusa) — This little-known shrubby tree (from west of Uvalde, Texas) sports bright golden globe flowers in the spring and golden leaves in the fall.

In addition to their indestructability, all of these plants boast architectural beauty and/or colorful flowers throughout the growing season. Most locally owned nurseries stock or can order them for you. Think local, plant local!

Start typing and press Enter to search