Southwest Regional Reports

Regional Picks: Perennial Hole Fillers – Southern Plains

Fine Gardening - Issue 146


1. Weeping Lantana

Weeping Lantana
Photo: Bill Johnson

Name: Lantana montevidensis

USDA Hardiness Zones: 9 to 11

Size: 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun; moist, well-drained soil

Weeping lantana can fill a large bare spot in no time. It grows particularly well in containers, too. Weeping lantana provides an understated charm with its purple flowers from midsummer to frost. It is native to South America and has naturalized in parts of the United States, to the point where it has been considered invasive in seven states, though not yet in the Southern Plains.


2. Firebush

Photo: Michelle Gervais

Name: Hamelia patens

Zones: 8 to 11

Size: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; well-drained soil

It’s almost a shame to call firebush a “hole filler.” Its trumpet-shaped, ruby red flowers and light green foliage with red petioles provide endless amounts of interest. Although rated a Zone 8 plant, I have seen it overwintered in a protected Zone 6 spot as an herbaceous perennial. But remember—the warmer the environment, the better firebush performs. Flowers and color are best in summer heat.


3. Northern Sea Oats

Northern Sea Oats
Photo: Michelle Gervais

Name: Chasmanthium latifolium

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Northern sea oats possesses a grace found in few other grasses, thanks to its arching seed heads that dangle through fall and much of winter. Its broadleaf blades emanate from the stem, rather than arching up from its base. Northern sea oats grows larger every year and sends out many seedlings. These can be transplanted to fill a bare spot or pulled out if they become a nuisance. Northern sea oats is native to the eastern United States and is at home in almost any garden.


4. ‘Lemon Ball’ Sedum

Lemon Ball Sedum
Photo: Bill Johnson

Name: Sedum ‘Lemon Ball’

Zones: 3 to 10

Size: 4 inches tall and up to 2 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

The bright chartreuse foliage of ‘Lemon Ball’ sedum brightens up any bare spot. It looks good next to many plants, espe­cially as a complementary contrast to purple ones. Its compact habit makes it great for filling in holes along a garden’s edge or in the cracks of a sidewalk or an old wall. Its succulent foliage adds an interesting texture, making up for its less-than-attractive flowers. ‘Lemon Ball’ is more shatter resistant and less aggressive than other sedums.

Lou Anella is a professor of horticulture at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.

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