Which Plants Can I Grow in Austin?
Austin is home to some of the biggest attractions in several different categories. Rich in history, tradition, and entertainment, you'll find everything from racing events to a lively music scene in this iconic city. And what's more, Austin falls in one of the most amenable growing environments for would-be gardeners, making this city a perfect place for beginner and expert green thumbs alike! Everything from beautiful blooms to vibrant fruit trees thrives in Austin, so let's dive right in and get growing!
Which Plants Grow Well in Austin?
Given its aforementioned climate, the forgiving temperatures are perfect for a variety of fruit trees and flowering plants, all of which love the warm and sunny summers the area provides. Look around at some of the local parks for some inspiration and guidance on how to plant and nurture, but also know that many plants overwinter well in Austin. With a bit of help from you, plants that are more susceptible to frost will do just as well with some time indoors, resulting in vibrant greenery and blooms for your home or garden. Here are a few examples to get you started:
Japanese Aralia (Fatisa japonica): An evergreen shrub that is wonderfully ornamental, the Japanese aralia has large hand-shaped leaves. This plant prefers lower levels of indirect light, likes its soil to dry between waterings, and easily is hardy down to temperatures of 5°F. If you put it in the right conditions, it can even flower small white tiny bushels of blooms!
Split Leaf Philodendron (Monstera deliciosa): Also known as the Swiss Cheese plant due to its notched leaves and photogenic nature, this plant spreads quickly over large areas, often lending a space a jungle vibe once its growth. Keep it in areas that are consistently in the 50 °F range, which can also include shaded areas so long as that temperature threshold is maintained! If indoors, it prefers bright to medium indirect light, preferably for 6 hours a day. An easy plant to care for, the only other thing you need to do is spritz occasionally to keep things on the humid side for it!
It's always a good idea to consult a Farmer's Almanac or similar source to plan out your growing strategy. With the right preparation, you'll find Austin's temperate climate is perfect for both warm and cold season vegetables. Here are just a few that love the Austin area:
Cold Season Veggies:
- Swiss Chard
Warm Season Veggies:
Best Landscaping Plants in Austin
If you're hoping for fruit, Austin is a great place to grow it! Not only are they great additions to any garden, but they're also reliable food sources for local birds and pollinating insects. Always double-check to see if the plants you're considering are conducive to your specific area, but a safe bet is something native. They've already proven they can thrive in the area, and you won't run short of planting and nurturing ideas with a bit of observation of how others of their kind thrive. Here are a few fruit trees to try:
- Apricot Trees
- Cherry Trees
- Fig Trees
- Citrus Trees
- Pear Trees
If flowers and shrubs are your intention, just be sure to remember they need to be able to withstand light frosts as well as hot, sunny, summer conditions. Fear not! Here are a few great examples to start with:
Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia): The bright red tube-shaped blooms of the Red Buckeye are striking upon the tall, panicles that appear in the spring. While the seeds are poisonous, the flowers attract pollinators, especially hummingbirds who love the nectar! This plant works great as a flowering hedge, and can survive well in either full sun to partial shade. To keep this plant happiest, it likes a more clay-based soil and to not dry out too much!
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): If you're looking to make your garden an aromatic and lush setting, Rosemary trees are perfect for you! These plants love being outdoors in full sun so long as the climate doesn't become too arid or too cold, nothing below 10 °F, to be specific.
If you plan on overwintering them and bringing them indoors, cut them back by one-third. Let your Rosemary's soil dry out completely before rewatering, but be prompt in doing so as they thrive most in humid conditions.
Gardenia Veitchii (Gardenia jasminoides 'Veitchii'): With its large, white, aromatic blooms that are seen mid-spring, this plant is an easy choice for anyone looking to add some beautiful color to their garden. Also known as Cape Jasmine, which can grow up to heights of four feet, this plant thrives best in full sun to partial shade. If indoors, bright, indirect light is what the doctor ordered. Keep this in mind as even though it can handle a light freeze, sustained periods of cold tend to damage this plant.
Which Plants are Native to Austin?
If you're considering native plants for your indoor or outdoor space, you're already on a helpful path to benefit the local ecosystem and give yourself some leeway in terms of garden maintenance. Prevention of soil erosion, sustainability for local wildlife, and cohesion of native ecosystems are only a few of the benefits of utilizing native plants. On top of that, if you can implement endangered plants, expect to be a favorite of the local birds, butterflies, and bees that depend on such plants for a reliable food source! Here are a few ideas to get you started, but also be sure to check which plants fit best to your specific location:
Texas Wisteria (Wisteria frutscens): When you see them, you'll immediately recognize why this plant is so commonly utilized as a wedding flower. Texas Wisteria climbs and grows quickly, resulting in beautiful waterfalls of blooms, lavender in color in the case of this particular plant. Able to beautify any outdoor space, just be mindful of its rapid growth so it doesn't choke out other plants!
Texas Oregon Grape (Mahonia swaseyi): With multiple varieties of coppery-red colors, Oregon Grape can not only grow well in the Austin climate but bring many bright blooms to your garden in early spring. Pollinators like bees and hummingbirds love these flowers. It produces red berries that, while tart, are edible! Be aware that the Nervosa variety is considered a noxious weed in some places beyond Oregon, so consult your local area classification before planting!
Serviceberry (Amelanchier): Granted its name for the timing of its flowering, it's also a member of the rose family that produces edible berries and leaves that can be dried for tea! You'll have to look upward, sometimes to heights of 25 feet to see some of its vibrant, white blooms, which are sure to enhance any Austin garden.
Other Plants that Grow Best in Austin
Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum Aethiopicum): Even with its delicate fronds and fragile appearance, this plant is actually quite durable and resilient, capable of withstanding temperatures as low as -10 °F! It certainly isn't averse to colder months, and with moist soil, low light, and high humidity, will thrive in the Austin area!
Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum Jasminoides): As the name suggests, star-like flowers with vibrant, white blooms give this plant its moniker. With evergreen vines that can grow up to 6 feet in a season, this is a perfect plant to add dimension to your garden with its penchant for trellising. Plant it next to lattices or railings to really see it climb! Preferring bright, direct sunlight with manageable heat, this is a perfect outdoor addition that can easily handle Austin winters.
Asiatic Lilies (Lilium): Like other members of the Lilium family, what starts as a bulb grows into a prominent flower with fragrant aromas. With a wide range of colors, Asiatic lilies also provide the earliest blooms, bringing spring to your garden that much faster. They prefer sunny to partly sunny light for around 6 hours daily in soil that drains well and thrives well in the Austin area!
Austin Gardening Tips
It's always a good idea to have a plan whenever embarking on your growing season, and consulting a Farmer's Almanac is a great way to form your strategy and prepare for any variables that might arise. Austin falls in a forgiving zone for gardeners, but that doesn't mean complications are nonexistent! Be mindful of sudden frosts or dry spells, and consider raised beds or cold frames to make growing cold-weather plants that much easier in the winter months.
When Should I Plant My Garden in Austin?
Austin is relatively straightforward with its planting season. Usually, the last freeze date for Austin is March 15th, and the first freeze date is November 15th. However, be sure to check your specific area for more accurate dates, as this will vary from region to region. A general rule for vegetables is to start indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost date!
Because of this, winter gardens are a great option in Austin, even more so than other areas across the U.S that don't benefit from such conditions! Start with crops that prefer cooler temperatures like spinach or broccoli while the soil is still warm. October is perfect!
Planting in USDA Zone 8b and 9a
Zones 8 and 9, like all other USDA Hardiness Zones, is divided into two subzones, 8a and 8b. Both are classified based on their average winter temperatures by a margin of 10 to 20 °F. 9a falls in the 20°F to 25°F range and 8b in the 15°F to 20°F range. Zone 8 is actually the most common warm Zone in the U.S, and as long as both the hot summers and frosty seasons are considered, numerous techniques such as mulch can extend a growing season given the milder climate!