Gardening in Mississippi is moving to Austin, Texas

Well, just as I am starting to get used to gardening in Mississippi, I’m going to be learning to garden in a whole new place. In two weeks, I move to the Austin, Texas, area to teach at The University of Texas at Austin.

Austin is still Zone 8B just like the Mississippi Coast where I now live, but the climate it totally different. While Mississippi is a soupy bayou, Austin is hot and dry. I was totally surprised by this when we were house-hunting in Austin recently. I noticed the thermostat read 96 degrees, but it really didn’t feel that hot. That’s what low humidity will do for. As excited as I am about living in my new city — and climate — I know the plants I’ve gotten used to cultivating in Mississippi love their humidity. So I need some advice.

I’m checking out some Austin gardening blogs to see what flowering perennials will grow well in my new home. I’m thrilled to see that black-eyed Susans (one of my favorite) made the list of Flowering Plants for Texas by Round Rock Garden, a blogger not too far from Austin. They are one of my favorites. I grew them from seed this winter, and they are growing — although didn’t bloom this summer, as it’s their first year.

J. Peterson Design recommends these five perennials. I definitely want to try the Mexican Bush Sage on that list. I reminds me of honeymooning in Wyoming with all the sage around. Plus, it so very different than anything I could have grown in New York or Mississippi. So I’ll definitely be planting that in October.

I know I’ll be turning to this great resource from the Texas AgriExtension time and time again. It notes that Crape Myrtles grow well in Central Texas, which is good news. I saw them all over the place when we were house-hunting, so I figured they would definitely be on my list. They also grow well in Mississippi, and if we stayed there, they were on my list as well.

Based on reading these three resources, here’s my tentative gardening plan:

Front of house (West side) that gets full sun:

  • Crape Myrtle (Dynamit or Red Rocket) (3 to 25 ft)
  • Mexican Purple Sage (3 ft)
  • Knockout Rose (3 ft) probably several of these
  • Black-eyed Susans (3 ft)
  • Purple Coneflowers (1 to 3 ft)
  • Evergreen Wisteria (to go over my fence in the backyard or maybe in the front)

Right side of my house (North side) that gets sun and partial shade:

  • Butterfly Bush (5 to 6 ft)
  • Fall aster
  • Yellow columbine (1 to 3 ft)
  • Squid Agave (1 to 2 ft)
  • Red Yucca (2 to 4 ft)

Very excited about trying Yucca and Agave. Still need to come up with a plan for the South (left) side of the house and the back (east.) Stay tuned.
— Gina Chen

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