Don’t Give in to Jack Frost!

Tips to Avoid Losing Your Valuable Landscaping to the Cold

Landscaping and yard work are tough but rewarding jobs.  Weather extremes in southeast Texas can make landscaping and gardening downright frustrating. The heat in the summer is one thing, but we also get the occasional killing frost in the winter.  So what can we do?

If you plant tropicals such as Ixora, Bougainvillea, tropical Hibiscus, or Jatropha in the landscape, you will inevitably have to protect them with frost cloth or some other means of keeping them warm on freezing nights.  The hardest part of not using tropical plants is that they provide so much color in the summer heat. Personally, I justify buying at least a few of these beauties for some of my summer color because they last for months (if not years when we get mild winters). If I’m willing to spend 50 bucks on a cut flower arrangement that will last two weeks at best for my gal then it seems like a good investment to me — but don’t tell her I said that!

If you like Tropical Hibiscus, but don’t want to replace them after a freezing winter, consider a variety of hardy Hibiscus.  Rose of Sharon (Althea) Hibiscus are super cold hardy, and come in a multitude of colors. They do have drawbacks, like winter dormancy and occasional summer fungus issues, but will survive the coldest Texas nights.  Other hardy Hibiscus are what we refer to as perennial Hibiscus or mallow Hibiscus. The flowers are huge and impressive, and some are even Texas natives. They do go completely dormant and will need to be cut to the ground in the winter, but reliably emerge in the spring to give you another summer show year after year.

Our other alternative is to install plants that can survive hot summers and the occasional winter freeze.  Perennial flowers such as Coneflower, many varieties of Salvia, Black Eyed Susan, Lantana, Agapanthus, and many more can help fill your beds with color.  The obvious advantage is that they do not need to be replaced all the time. Unfortunately many perennials also slow down or stop blooming in the heat of the summer, and are dormant in the winter. If perennials bloomed all year, no one would ever plant an annual!

Don’t let cold stop you from having color in the winter, though.  Mix in some hardy annuals that are winter tough, and color rich. Two of my favorites are Snapdragons and Dianthus.  Both of them come in multiple colors, various ultimate growth sizes, and can sometimes (depending on where they are planted) survive summers too.  Both of them can survive winters in Denver, CO, so they are plenty tough for any cold Jack Frost dishes out here! I also like Pansies, Violas, and Calendulas because they are not only hardy and beautiful, but they can be used in the kitchen as well.

These are but just a few of the possibilities so don’t let the cold get you down. You can still have the beautiful garden you have worked hard to create.  There are always solutions if you are patient and willing to be a little flexible.

Written by Clay Lenderman | Edited by Sebastien Serimontrikul