|I live in the Houston area and am having trouble keeping my shrubs alive. I need something that doesn't require a lot of maintenance and that withstand the heat and sometimes the cold. I would like something that blooms in the spring but mainly I am looking for something hearty. This winter has been a cold winter and many of my shrubs have died.|
|I'd choose drought tolerant shrubs that are native or well adapted to your growing region. Some of the best are:
Texas Sage: This wonderful large shrub is gray with lavendar flowers that cover it sporatically from mid-summer until late fall. It is a very drought tolerant shrub for hot, dry, well-drained soil with plenty of sun. Great for our climate; don't overwater.
Nandina: Nandinas also will grow in the wild here. They are beautiful shrubs with red berries and pretty leaves. They come in several sizes; the larger ones are the best in appearance. It would be hard to kill this plant. Nandina likes some shade to be its best, but it will grow anywhere, with very little care or water.
Artemisia: This is an herb, but it grows so large it needs to be classified as a shrub. Since it grows large in just one season, it is a great plant to use for quick shrubs wherever you need one. Just break off a foot or so stem and plant part of it in the dirt where you want a new one to grow. Keep it moist for a week or two, and it will grow new roots. Before the end of the summer, you will have another large shrub and can repeat the process. Nothing bothers this plant, neither bug nor disease. You may need to cut it back so it does not take over the whole bed. Plant in full sun to part shade and water occasionally.
Chinese Photinia: This large shrub can be trimmed up into a small decorative tree. These often grow wild in Texas; that shows how tough they are. They will bloom in the spring with large white blooms, followed by berries which Cedar Waxwings love to eat. If they don't discover them, the berries will be a pretty winter accent to the garden. Plant anywhere - it lives on neglect.
Best wishes with your garden!