I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to some Texas Superstars. No, not a Texas Ranger or a Dallas Cowboy but a Superstar for your garden or landscape.
According to information provided by Texas A&M Agriculture Program web site it is not easy to become a Superstar. Only the toughest, most reliable and best looking plants make the cut. Every Texas Superstar plant undergoes several years of extensive field trails by Texas A&M University's Agriculture Program. The plants must be proven to be super-performing plants under Texas growing conditions. During the field trail, plants receive minimal soil preparation, minimal water and no pesticides. What does this mean for the homeowner? It means landscape success with beautiful, proven Texas-tough plants.
I have planted three of the Texas Superstar plants at my home the past two years. My favorite this past summer was an annual named Butterfly Deep Pink Pentas (Pentas lancelolata). I planted the Pentas as the "star" for my large containers on the patio. They bloomed profusely all summer and lasted until the first killing frost. They were in full sun nearly all day and never showed signs of heat stress. The water needs were minimal and I fertilized with a complete and balanced water soluble fertilizer as needed. The plants withstood those extremely hot days very nicely. The plants grew to about 24 inches tall and maintained a nice shape for the containers. In addition they had no pest problems. As an added attraction the flowers will attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
The other Superstar in my landscape was a perennial New Gold Lantana (Lantana X hybrida 'New Gold'). It, too, performed very well in the flower bed. The plants withstood the west sun in the afternoon and received watering from the in ground irrigation system. The size of the plant was about 2 feet tall and 4 feet wide. The plants had no pest problems and required minimal fertilizer. Their nice bright yellow color was a plus in the landscape and it bloomed until frost.
The third Superstar in my landscape is 'Knock Out' roses. They are planted in the full sun on the west side of my landscape. The plants bloomed all summer and survived with the water from the in ground irrigation system. Their bright red blooms did wane on those hottest days but the plants never seemed to be stressed. The roses do not have the fungal disease black spot therefore no spaying is needed. As an extra plus for me I cut the roses when they are in a tight bud and enjoy their bright red color in my home. The small bouquets last for days. I have also made small bouquets of the roses to give away and the flowers always bring a smile which is an extra bonus.
If you would like more information on Texas Superstar plants go to the Texas Superstar web site: www.texassuperstar.com.
Deanna Olson, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service