Texas Star Hibiscus

Hibiscus coccineus, more often known as Texas Star Hibiscus, is a Texas ‘Super Star’ and perennial shrub many have not given a chance. You can expect this plant to reach Texas Star Hibiscus - HDG Landscape Designanywhere from 3′ to 8.’  This perennial dies back to the ground in the winter, grows from zone 6a to 11, and can withstand many of our winters in warmer climates.  Texas Star Hibiscus will come back in spring when temperatures warm up. The dark red petals resemble a 5 point star and are much larger and open compared to standard hibiscus.

Texas Star Hibiscus can handle full sun to part shade, flowering best in full sun from mid-summer to early fall.  Texas Star Hibiscus is known to handle drought conditions but can also handle quite a bit of water. Plant this perennial behind evergreen plants with plenty of room (about 4’) so that it is hidden when it dies back in winter.

OFF! – Grown in Your Backyard

Pelargonium citrosum - HDG Landscape DesignAs we quickly approach mosquito season Chelsea from Dallas asks what she can do to prevent these pests. Luckily there are several varieties of plants that can be purchased and placed in containers so that you and your guests can enjoy your patio and home without being covered in OFF!

Pelargonium citrosum

Pelargonium citrosum is a zone 9b-11 tender perennial or annual in colder climates like Dallas and is often referred to as the Mosquito Plant, Citronella Geranium, or Citronella plant. These can grow up to 2’-3’ in height, will tolerate full sun to part shade, and is especially drought tolerant (although I would recommend watering it regularly if possible). Although most people are more interested in its repelling properties, Pelargonium citrosum will bloom repeatedly with lavender flowers, is a great container plant, and can grow from cuttings. You can set several of these plants out on your patio to deter mosquito pests, but the best method used to avoid them is to rub a couple of these leaves on your exposed skin to release the natural oils found in the plant. The parts of this plant should not be ingested as it can be poisonous.

Nepeta cataria

Nepeta cataria is a zone 3 to 7 perennial and is often known as Catnip. These can grow up to 2’-3’ in height, will tolerate full sun to part shade, and tolerates drought and pollution as well as rocky soils. My recommendation is to contain this plant as it will seed itself throughout your garden and could become invasive. The parts of this plant have been used for teas (has a slight minty flavor), repelling insects, and for cats. Apply the leaves of the plant directly to the skin or infuse the dried and crushed plant into an oil such as olive oil for application.

Many other plants have been said to repel mosquitos, and research has shown that mosquitos are more likely to be attracted to those with a diet of processed or sugary foods as opposed to a more natural diet. Consider eating more garlic and onion during mosquito season.

The following list very well may repel mosquitos. For any plant recommended I would apply the leaves of the plant to the skin, and re-apply every 1-2 hours as it wears off. Keep in mind that some of the smells may be very nice while others are quite offensive.

Mentha piperita

– Tagetes spp.

– Allium sativum

– Lavandula angustifolia

– Eucalyptus spp.

-Melissa officinalis

Esperanza – Tecoma stans

HDG Landscape Design EsperanzaTecoma stans, more often known as Yellow Bells or Esperanza, is a favorite perennial shrub for Texans. You can expect this plant to reach anywhere from 3′ to 25′ depending on the variety you have selected and your location. Many Esperanza can be treated as an annual to a perennial from zones 7-11. The 2″ trumpet-like flowers resembles the flower shape of the Trumpet Vine and Cross Vine with a stunningly yellow display.

My personal favorite is Tecoma stans ‘Gold Star’ which reaches 3′-4′ and is treated like an annual in zone 9. It is considered a ‘Texas Superstar’ as well as being especially heat tolerant and pest resistant compared to other varieties. I personally do not like to use Gold Star Esperanza as you would a typical annual, and instead I will place these in full sun behind evergreen shrubs around 2′-3′ tall that are less significant from April through November when the Tecoma stans varieties are expected to flower. In several zone 9 applications, this plant can survive a winter if the base of the plant is protected. Although Esperanza can be used in Dallas, zones 7-8, it would be better suited for patio container use or as an annual accent for the tropical themed backyard.

Other Varities:

Tecoma stans var. angustata is a more drought tolerant and cold tolerant variety that is native to the southern United States. Although you may read that this variety is shorter than others, I would disagree as it has been found to grow closer to 10′ in height.

Tecoma stans var. stans is a variety that commonly grows up to 25′ in height and is used as an ornamental tree.