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Regional Picks: Plants for Winter’s Worst – Southern Plains

Fine Gardening - Issue 149

Southern Plains

 

Paintbrush lily (Scadoxus puniceus, syn. S. natalensis)

USDA Hardiness Zones: 8 to 11

Size: 20 to 30 inches tall and wide

Conditions: Partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

This stunning bulb produces large globe-shaped torches of vibrant orange flowers held high on sturdy stalks in early spring before the leaves emerge. The glossy foliage, which persists through summer and fall before going dormant, adds a whole new textural dimension to the shade. Paintbrush lily is slow to multiply and can be hard to find, but it is worth seeking out because it is so amazing.

 

Paco’s possumhaw holly (Ilex decidua ‘Pacos’)

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide

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

This is one of our favorite native ornamental trees, which can be grown as a single- or multitrunk plant. Paco’s possumhaw holly is a female plant (only females produce berries), which is absolutely covered with gorgeous red fruit all winter. Expect birds to feast on the berries from winter into early spring. This is a tough drought-tolerant tree that can take periodic wet conditions, too—making it perfect for unpredictable winter weather.

 

Dwarf barbados cherry (Malpighia glabra ‘Nana’)

Zones: 9 to 11

Size: 3 to 4 feet tall and wide

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

This unique, colorful native shrub is covered with pink and white flowers through summer and fall. It produces an abundance of cherrylike red fruit, which is enjoyed by a variety of birds late in the season. Its size makes it a perfect choice to use singly, in a grouping, or even as a low hedge. Dwarf Barbados cherry is evergreen in average winters and root hardy in severe winters. As a bonus, it’s drought tolerant once established.

 

Pink Siam tulip ginger (Curcuma alismatifolia ‘Pink’)

Zones: 8 to 10

Size: 1 to 2 feet tall and wide

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

A tulip from Thailand? Well, not quite. This fabulous ginger has stiff, narrow leaves and elegantly erect, soft pink flowers. The long-lasting blossoms rebloom throughout summer and superficially resemble a tulip, although there is no relation. Pink Siam tulip ginger is day-length sensitive and will go dormant in late fall, before returning in midspring as soon as the temperatures warm up. Leave some space when siting because each plant will slowly multiply.

 

Heidi Sheesley (left) is owner of Treesearch Farms in Houston, Texas. Angela Chandler (right) teaches at The Garden Academy, an online horticulture school.

Photos: Courtesy of Heidi Sheesley; Courtesy of Treesearch Farms; Jerry Pavia; Bill Johnson

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