Which Plants Can I Grow In San Antonio?
San Antonio is full of unique history, beautiful sights, amazing Tex-mex food, and a growing local music scene. Most of the city has a humid subtropical climate, except areas in the west that are closer to a semi-arid climate, leading to steamy summers and cool winters.
While being quite warm during the summer months, San Antonio often has about a dozen nights that dip below freezing. Having both warmer summers and hitting below-freezing temperatures means that finding plants that are hardy to the weather is a little tougher. On top of thinking about the heat, San Antonio is one of the most flood-prone areas in the United States, adding extra risk to gardens during storms. Even with these conditions, there is an amazingly diverse local plant population, from the lavender-flowered Passionflower Vine to the heart-shaped leaves donned by the Texas Redbud!
Which Plants Grow Well in San Antonio?
While some areas of San Antonio get slightly cooler weather, the plant health risks are similar. The warm summer months are great for many plants, but the hot sun can burn some plants' leaves if they are in direct sunlight. In the winter, some plants can’t handle the occasional freezes very well. Search for plants that are hardy to both extremes, and consider your local area when considering risks such as bugs, flooding, sun coverage, and soil composition. Some ways that you can expand which plants grow well in your San Antonio yard include creating raised beds that help you protect against the cold and any areas where water collects, as well as mulch to help regulate the soil temperatures.
Best Landscaping Plants in San Antonio
If you are considering putting in landscaping, the first step will be to consider your yard’s specific traits. Some spaces are really shaded, while other backyards are filled with direct sunlight. Consider things like your soil, common bugs, and wildlife that you see around your space. Having this knowledge helps you better pick the plants that will survive your backyard environment! If you are looking for an evergreen tree, the Lemon Cypress Topiary (Cupressus macrocarpa) is a stunning option! Grown both indoors and outdoors, this conifer often only grows to 3 feet. It has greenish-yellow foliage that is needle-like and often grows in a conical pattern. To add to its appeal, this plant smells like fresh citrus! The Lemon Cypress likes full or partial sun, prefers well-drained soil, and has low water needs.
Another needle-bearing option that has multiple benefits is the Tuscan Blue Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Bearing much darker greens than the Lemon Cypress, the Tuscan Blue Rosemary can bring a different vibe to your outdoor space. Not only is it hardy to the weather in San Antonio, but it can bloom blue or white flowers, adding small pops of color to your garden. A great option for a windowsill or an outdoor arrangement, this variety of Rosemary thrives even in indirect bright light and with low amounts of water. Of course, Rosemary is also an herb that can be added to dishes, making this a must-have for home cooks and bakers!
Which Plants are Native to San Antonio?
When picking plants for your spaces in San Antonio, consider local native plants! These picks are vital to the ecosystem and can help protect biodiversity. When you plant native plants, you not only are adding a piece of natural history to your yard, but also providing crucial shelter and food for local wildlife such as bees, butterflies, and birds! Supporting your local pollinators and neighborhood biodiversity is a great reason to choose these plants, but they also are proven to be hardy to your area making them an obvious option! When looking into native plants, talk to your local nursery, as they are great resources for finding the correct native plant varieties for your area, and often can point you towards endangered plant options too!
A great option for a decorative tree is the Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis), a small tree or shrub with stunning pink, purple, or white blooms that show around February or March. These plants love the partial shade and are great food sources for local pollinators. The Texas Redbud is hardier than its relative the Eastern Redbud, making it great for San Antonio weather. This tree adds unique color to your yard space and is a great native option for local fauna.
Looking for another way to add color to your yard? There are many different varieties of native Sage that you can look at for your space! A great option is Mealy Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea), which is a perennial that has white or blue flowers that grow along the central stem of the plant. The Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) is another Sage option that instead has pink, red, purple, or white flowers that are wonderfully edible! Hummingbirds love many of these varieties of sage, making them an important addition to any native garden.
Other Plants that Grow Best in San Antonio
Looking for a romantic trellising plant? There are so many vines that can grow in this area! One elegant option is the English Ivy Green Ideal (Hedera helix) which has a few different color varieties including the Gold Child variegation with white-ringed leaves, the California Ivy with its lighter green veins, and the Glacier with its silvery grey and cream variants! English Ivy likes low to medium indirect light and can handle lower water levels. Not your cup of tea? Ferns such as the Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum aethiopicum) are another medium to indirect light and low water option with a totally different vibe! These plants are delicate and gorgeous, adding a beautiful pop of green to a shaded or patio area!
Looking for something bolder? The Split Leaf Philodendron (Monstera deliciosa) is a little harder to care for but totally worth the extra TLC. Known as the swiss cheese plant due to its leaves that sport unusual holes, this plant adds a unique, tropical vibe to any outdoor area! While the Split Leaf Philodendron is often used as an indoor plant, it could live in an outdoor space in San Antonio if you take extra care. This plant will not do well in full sun, needing partial sun and shade during midday. Make sure it gets watered at least once a week to keep it as moist as it likes, but make sure that its soil is both fertilized and draining. With a little extra attention, these plants can grow into huge outdoor attention-grabbers!
San Antonio Gardening Tips
To ensure that your garden grows beautifully, you just have to do some research! Pick plants that like your soil, or create planting boxes to put your own soil mixture into. Mulch is a great option for those looking to keep the soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Using mulch can also prevent evaporation from the soil, keeping plants moist after watering. Raised beds are another solution to consider to help you have more control over the heat and the dampness of the soil, and can be placed anywhere in your yard to fit the plants you are trying to foster. Another benefit of raised beds is that they can help make gardening more accessible to those with knee or back soreness or injuries!
When Should I Plant My Garden in San Antonio?
In San Antonio, the first frosts in warmer areas are often around mid-December, meaning any cold-sensitive plants need to be moved inside. These first frost times are earlier in some cooler parts of the city, sometimes occurring in mid-November. When trying to decide when to plant your garden, especially in a city like San Antonio where the weather can fluctuate between areas, it is crucial to keep an eye on your local estimated frost dates. Once you have a general idea of the last frost, you can start your seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before then to give you the ability for more harvests!
If you plan on doing a cold-weather garden, you may have some trouble. Fall gardens usually have to be started very late in the season, meaning they may not have enough time to mature fully. Look at your cooler veggies’ harvest time to see if they will work during this shorter cold season.
Planting in Zone 8b and 9a
San Antonio’s temperatures mean that it has multiple USDA Plant Hardiness Zones, both USDA Zone 8b and Zone 9a. By using the minimum average winter temperature, the USDA separates areas to help gardeners understand what is hardy to their coldest seasons! 8b has a minimum average winter temperature of 15°F to 20°F, while Zone 9a has a minimum average winter temp of 20°F to 25°F. In the cooler areas, winter gardens are possible if you select the correct crops with shorter harvest times. Broccoli is a great option for starting in October, for example.
To protect plants from the cooler weather, especially in the colder areas of San Antonio, raised beds and mulch can help keep the soil warmer. Mulch is also great for fending off the hot sun rays during the hottest months and prevents water from evaporating too quickly. Consider raised beds if you have areas of your yard that often get too soggy or drip irrigation for especially dry areas! Looking to grow trees? Look at hardy varieties of Apricot Trees, Pear Trees, Fig Trees, Cherry Trees, Apple Trees, and Banana Trees!