Selecting Water-Wise Plants for the Texas Coastal Bend
Since the major South Texas drought of the 1980s, plants that require less water have become more readily available from local plant nurseries. There are many very attractive plants that go well in a water-wise landscape. Low water plants depend on the growth of extensive root systems to effectively gather water for proper growth. While some of them may look unimpressive in nursery containers, they can rapidly become beautiful plants in your landscape.

While garden departments at some big box stores may sell plants that are not necessarily adapted to local conditions, every plant nursery in the area offers plants that you can grow successfully. Nurserymen are an excellent source of advice on plant selection.

The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners have compiled a list of plants they have found from experience to be well adapted to coastal South Texas. Below are some of their selections. The Water District assisted the Gardeners in publishing their award-winning photo plant book called "In Our Coastal Garden." Each of the category headings below is a link to a section of their detailed and illustrated plant guide. Credits for photos in the guide are listed HERE.

Anacua (Ehretia anacua) - large evergreen; fast growing
American Elm (Ulmus americana) - deciduous, fast growing
Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia) - deciduous, fall blooms
Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) - conifer
Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) - spiny deciduous, very salt tolerant native
Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muhlenbergii) - deciduous, salt tolerant native
Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) - deciduous, salt tolerant, fast growing
Lacey Oak (Quercus laceyi) - deciduous native
Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) - spreading evergreen, low water, salt tolerant
Sugarberry Hackberry (Celtis laevigata) - deciduous, salt tolerant
Texas Ebony (Ebenopsis ebano) - evergreen, salt tolerant

SMALL TREES (up to 30 feet)
Bottlebrush (Callistemon rigidus) - evergreen, hardy, blooms spring-summer
Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) - deciduous blooms summer-fall
Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) - deciduous, blooms spring-fall
Farkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum) - evergreen, spring blooms, fall fruit
Mexican Poinciana (Caesalpinia mexicana) - evergreen, hardy native, blooms spring-fall
Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) - deciduous, spring blooms
Red Bay (Persea borbonia) - evergreen, fall fruit, salt tolerant
Texas Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana) - deciduous, blooms spring-summer
Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) - evergreen, spring blooms
Wild Olive (Cordia boissieri) - evergreen, hardy, blooms spring-fall
Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) - evergreen, red berries fall, native, salt tolerant

LARGE SHRUBS (more than 10 feet tall)
Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) - evergreen, hardy, blooms spring-winter
Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) - evergreen native, blooms spring-fall
Confederate Rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) - deciduous, blooms summer-fall
Esperanza (Tecoma stans) - perennial native, blooms spring-fall
Fiddlewood (Citharexylum berlandieri) - deciduous native, yellow blooms spring-fall
Fig (Ficus carica) - fruiting deciduous, hardy, summer fruit
Flowering Senna (Senna corymbosa) - evergreen, yellow blooms spring-fall
Mexican Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa) - deciduous, pink blooms in spring
Pomegranate (Punica granatum) - deciduous, salt tolerant
Skyflower (Duranta erecta) - evergreen, blue, purple or white blooms
Wax Myrtle (Morella cerifera) - evergreen, very salt tolerant

MEDIUM SHRUBS (5 to 9 feet tall)
Agarito (Mahonia trifoliolata) - evergreen native, salt tolerant
American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) - deciduous, spring bloom/fall fruit
Baby-Bonnets (Coursetia axillaris) - evergreen, pink blooms in spring
Coral Bean (Erythrina herbacea) - prickly shrub, native to coast
Firecracker (Russelia equisetiformis) - evergreen, blooms spring-winter
Mexican Turks's Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) - evergreen, blooms spring-fall
Natal Plum (Carissa marocarpa) - evergreen, blooms spring-fall
Belinda's Dream Rose (Rosa x Belinda's Dream) - deciduous, salt tolerant
Knock Out Rose (Rosa x Knock Out) - cherry red blooms, salt tolerant
Yellow Plumbago, Thryallis (Galphimia glauca) - evergreen, blooms summer-fall
Yellow Sophora (Sophora tomentosa spp. occidentalis) - evergreen, blooms spring-fall

SMALL SHRUBS (Less than 4 feet)
Barbados Cherry (Malpighia glabra) - evergreen, edible red fruit
Black Dalea (Dalea frutescens) - evergreen native, blooms summer-fall
Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) - tender perennial, salt tolerant
Chile Pequin (Capsicum annuum) - perennial native, edible fruit, salt tolerant
Dwarf Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) - evergreen, salt tolerant
Fern Acacia (Acacia angustissima) - deciduous native, blooms summer-falls
Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) - red blooms summer-fall
Fragrant Mistflower (Chromolaena odorata) - perennial, blooms fall
Golden Daisy Bush (Euryops chrysanthemoides) - Aromatic perennial, yellow blooms
Heartleaf Hibiscus (Hibiscus martianus) - native, blooms spring-fall
Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) - evergreen, best in shade, salt tolerant
Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) - evergreen, blooms spring-winter
Mountain Sage (Salvia regla) - aromatic, orange blooms in fall
Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) - evergreen, blooms spring-fall
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) - aromatic evergreen, blooms summer-fall
Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) - perennial, lavender blooms summer-fall
Skeletonleaf Goldeneye (Viguiera stenoloba) - evergreen, blooms spring-fall
Softleaf Yucca (Yucca recurvifolia) - evergreen, summer blooms, salt tolerant
Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides) - evergreen native, blooms spring-fall
Thorn-crested Agave (Agave lophantha) - evergreen, flowers late summer
Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) - semi-evergreen, salt tolerant
Wheeler's Sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri) - evergreen, blooms early summer
Wooly Butterfly Bush (Buddleja marrubiifolia) - evergreen, blooms spring-fall

Blue Butterfly Pea Vine (Clitoria ternatea) - annual, hardy, blooms summer-fall
Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) - evergreen, blooms spring-fall
Coral Vine (Antigonon leptopus) - perennial deciduous, root hardy, grows tuber
Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) - native evergreen, blooms spring
Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) - annual, blooms summer-fall
Mexican Flame Vine (Pseudogynoxys chenopodioides) - evergreen, hardy, blooms spring-fall
Passionflower, Maypop (Passiflora incarnata) - perennial evergreen
Snapdragon Vine (Maurandella antirrhiniflora) - semi-evergreen native, very salt tolerant
Texas Wisteria ( Wisteria frutescens) - deciduous, spring blooms
Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans) - deciduous, summer blooms
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefola) - deciduous, red fall color and fruit

Powis Castle Artemesia (Artemesia var. Powis Castle) - perennial, salt tolerant
Big Blue Lilyturf (Liriope muscari) - evergreen, salt tolerant
Frog Fruit (Phyla nodiflora) - evergreen native, salt tolerant
Gregg's Misflower (Conoclinium greggii) - evergreen, blue blooms spring-fall
Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia) - hardy evergreen, purple blooms all year
Pigonberry (Rivina humilis) - native perennial, blooms spring-fall
Oyster Plant (Tradescantia spathacea) - hardy perennial
Purple Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis) - blooms spring-fall, salt tolerant
Snakeherb (Dyschoriste linearis) - evergreen, blooms spring-fall
Wedelia (Sphagneticola trilobata) - evergreen, yellow flowers in summer
Wooly Stemodia (Stemodia lanata) - evergreen, purple blooms spring-fall

Bamboo Muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa) - fast-growing perennial grass
Big Muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri) - Perennial, fall seed heads, salt tolerant
Coastal Cordgrass (Spartina spartinae) - perennial, fall seed heads
Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) - native grass, fall seed color, very salt tolerant
Inland Seaoats (Chasmanthium latifolium) - perennial, late summer-fall seed heads
Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus) - fragrant perennial, sharp leaves
Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) - perennial, russet seed heads in fall
Mexican Feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima) - native, mass for ground cover
Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum Rubrum) -Cultivar, blooms late spring
Purple Threeawn (Aristida purpurea) - perennial, lacy purple seed head
Yellow Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) - perennial, fall seed heads

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) - clumping plant, blooms spring
Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra) - half-hardy evergreen, many colors
Firebush (Hamelia patens) - deciduous perennial, blooms summer-fall
Firespike (Odontonema tubiforme) - evergreen, blooms summer-fall, salt tolerant
Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) - sub-tropical evergreen, salt tolerant
Jatropha (Jatropha integerrima) - evergreen, coral blooms spring-fall
Dwarf Oleander (Nerium oleander hybrid) - blooms spring-fall, hardy
Orchid Tree ( Bauhinia variegata) - fast growing, spring blooms
Plumeria (Plumeria spp.) - many colors, tender
Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) - deciduous, blooms summer-fall
Split-Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) - broad leaf, salt tolerant

Florida Sabal (Sabal palmetto) - slow growing evergreen, hardy, salt tolerant
Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor) - hardy native, salt tolerant
Foxtail Palm (Wodyetia bifurcata) - evergreen, tender, moderate salt tolerance
Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) - slow growing, hardy
Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis) - clump-forming, hardy
Pindo Palm (Butia capitata) - hardy evergreen, edible fruit
Mexican Blue Hesper Palm (Brahea armata) - evergreen, hardy, slow growing
Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) - evergreen
Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) - evergreen, medium to fast growing
Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta) - cycad, not a palm, hardy, salt tolerant
Texas Sabal Palm (Sabal mexicana) - hardy evergreen, moderate growth rate, salt tolerant

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) - low water, blooms spring
Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) - low water, blooms early spring
Drummond's Phlox (Phlox drummondii) - low water, salt tolerant, pink
Greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium) - full sun, low water, yellow
Horsemint (Monarda citriodora) - blooms spring, salt tolerant
Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) - very salt tolerant, low water
Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) - native on sandy soil, blooms spring, red
Lazy Daisy (Aphanostephus skirrhobasis) - blooms spring and fall
Pentas, Egyptian Star (Pentas lanceolata) - red flowers spring-fall
Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) - low water, bloom spring-fall
Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) - yellow blooms spring-summer

Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) - wildflower, white blooms
Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens) - evergreen, orange, yellow
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) - blooms spring-fall
Tropical Butterfly Weed (Asclepias curassavica) - blooms spring-fall, salt tolerant
Texas Gold Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha) - blooms spring
Copper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) - aromatic, blooms fall-spring
Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) - blooms in spring
David Verity Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignea David Verity) - blooms spring-fall
Bat Face Cuphea (Cuphea llavea) - blooms spring-fall
Four Nerve Daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa) - blooms spring-winter
Gayfeather (Liatris elegans) - dormant winter-spring
Fragrant Goldenrod (Solidago odora) - blooms in fall, salt tolerant
Perennial Hibiscus (Hibiscus spp.) - blooms summer-fall
Mexican Hat (Ratibida peduncularis) - blooms spring-fall
Mexican Mint Marigold (Tagetes lucida) - yellow fall blooms, herb
Mexican Oregano (Poliomintha longiflora) - aromatic, lavender blooms spring-fall
Moss Verbena (Verbena tenuisecta) violet bloom spring-fall
Padre Island Mistflower (Conoclinium betonicifolium) - blooms spring-winter
Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) - blue, purple or pink flowers spring-winter
Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) - Blooms spring-fall
Indigo Spires Salvia (Salvia farinacea x longispicata) - blooms spring-fall
Mealy Blue Sage Victoria (Salvia farinacea) - blooms spring-fall
Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) - blooms summer-winter
Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea) -blooms spring-fall, salt tolerant
Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana) - blooms spring-winter
Spider Lily (Hymenocallis liriosme) - blooms in spring, salt tolerant
Texas Betony (Stachys coccinea) - red blooms spring-fall
Winecups (Callirhoe involucrata) - blooms in spring
Zexmenia (Wedelia texana) - blooms spring-fall, salt tolerant