After a cold snap followed by a fairly rainy April, spring has officially sprung in Austin, Texas. Our empty garden beds are calling out to be tilled and refreshed for a new season of vegetation. So this week we’re rolling up our sleeves and turning a new leaf on native Texas plants in hopes of inspiring some natural creativity.
Whether you’re a first time grower or have sowed many seasons of seeds – gardening is the perfect hobby to connect one to nature. In Central Texas, we are lucky to have a warm, relatively moist climate and fertile soil home to thousands of plant species. From Hill Country vineyards to roadside wildflowers, these bright blooms offer colorful foliage, enticing fragrance and even medicinal properties.
We’ve dug around (all pun intended) through hundreds of native Texas species to recommend the top 7 flowers that are ideal for summer gardens and known for being tough, useful, and of course, beautiful!
Wild Blue Indigo
Baptisia australis/Fabaceae (Legume)
Upright, robust, smooth perennial 2-4 ft. Gorgeous blue flower bloom in April-May.
Growers Guide: Clay soils of prairies and plains; needs full sun. Caution: Plant generally said to be toxic.
Historical Herbal Use: Has been used as an antiseptic, a purgative and to combat coughs and fevers.
Current Herbal Use: The seed pods make a blue dye for wool; research is ongoing as a treatment for immune system.
Texas Star Hibiscus
Grows 4-8′ with tall canes. Leaves look a little like marijuana plant; saucer-sized red flowers
Growers Guide: Can grow in wet or dry conditions; grows quickly. Beautiful blooms all summer; great as a tall landscape plant
Herbal Use: A fragrant hibiscus tea can be made from its flowers.
A daisy-like perennial with purple drooping rays surrounding a spiny, brownish central disk. Rough, scattered leaves on long stems.
Growers Guide: Prefers full sun. Tolerant of drought, heat, humidity and poor soil. Handsome flowers in late spring; birds eat the seed heads. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
Herbal Use: Can be brewed as medicinal tea. Widely used to treat common cold, coughs, bronchitis, some inflammatory conditions.
Asclepias tuberosa/Asclepiadaecae (Milkweed)
Clump-forming hairy perennial to 3 ft. Small red-orange or orange flowers in clusters from April-September
Growers Guide: Found throughout Texas in a wide variety of soils. Sun, light shade. Attractive flowers bring lots of butterflies & bees.
Historical Herbal Use: Root tea for heart trouble; seeds and roots used as laxative. Fibers from stem used to make rope; settlers treated bronchial and lung problems with the root.
Current Herbal Use: Tincture used as a homeopathic remedy.
Mexican Mint Marigold
Hardy perennial that works well in ornamental gardens. Its stems reach 2-3 feet and are topped in late fall with tight clusters of bright yellow marigold-like flowers.
Growers Guide: Plant in well-drained soil with full sun to part shade. Prune back in late fall after the blooms fade. Propagate in spring by division or seed.
Herbal Use: Leaves are used a substitute for French tarragon, often called “Texas tarragon”.
Upright, aromatic annual or biennials to 32″. Blooms April-October, if watered, with whitish or lavender flowers.
Grower Guide: Sandy or rocky soils; tolerates drought. Grows in sun or part shade. Can become aggressive; susceptible to powdery mildew. Interesting flowers and fragrant foliage; easily grows from seed. Leaves are edible in tea or used in salads and cooking.
Historical Herbal Use: The Blackfoot Indians used bee balm poultices for skin infections and minor wounds. Bee balm tea was used to treat mouth and throat infections.
Current Herbal Use: Lemon-flavored tea from dried leaves; oil from leaves used in perfumes; dried crushed leaves can be used as an insect repellant.
Upright, hairy perennial to 12″, with fringed yellow flowers. Genus name means “stone seed,” referring to the nutlets that come late in the season.
Growers Guide: Prefers sandy soils; tolerates drought. Showy flowers from April -June.
Historical Herbal Use: Navajos chewed root for coughs & colds; roots made a red or purple dye; puccoon is an Indian word meaning “dye”
Current Herbal Use: Can be used in natural fiber & wool dyeing.
At Latika, we’re constantly inspired by the visual and aromatic beauty found in the natural world around us. Our founder, Mazzi Peled, is an avid home gardener and considers it both a self-care practice and an opportunity to bond with her husband and two small children. Here are some recent photos from their family garden, you can follow more of her gardening journey on Instagram.