Looking for a heat and drought tolerant perennial?

October 10, 2011

I get asked daily about what people can plant in their gardens here in Texas that will be low-maintenance, drought and heat tolerant, bloom with ease and tolerate some shade. There are not a lot of plants that fit that bill. If you're asking yourself that question and you want to plant right now (because it's PERFECT planting weather), then, WELL...what about Daffodils?

Yes, daffodils. I know, most of you will probably say, "but, daffodils are bulbs...". And you're right, they are bulbs. But they are also really tough drought tolerant perennials that can be planted in areas that receive some shade. They are especially great under deciduous trees, because they'll receive plenty of direct light while they are growing and before the trees leaf out.

The type of daffodils that typically perform best in the heat and humidity of the South are most of the Jonquil hybrids, however most Narcissus do very well. You'll find that the classic Trumpeted types are the group that tend to be least-adapted in terms of multiplying or long-term perennialization. The large- and small-cupped types do better.

Some of my favorites include 'Quail', N. bulbicodium, 'Jetfire', 'Hawera', and 'Thalia'. I also love the pinky/peach cupped varieties like 'Precocious' and 'Pink Charm', not to mention some of the fun split-corona types like 'Orangery'.

October-December is prime time to plant your daffodil bulbs in Texas. When you do plant, plant them deep! You'll find they are happiest when planted about 8"-12"inches deep, as the bulbs/roots like the cooler soil temperatures. Plus, this allows you to plant some seasonal color, like violas, right on top of them. The exception to this would be the mini-daffodils which have much smaller bulbs -they can be planted 4"-6" deep, so they are perfect for tucking in around already established perennials.

Mix some bulb-food in with the soil when you plant and water in. In the spring, after blooming, you'll want to allow the foliage to continue to grow, until the leaves start to fade and flop over, then you can cut the foliage down, but not before. Feed your established bulbs just after they finish blooming each year with a bulb food.

Daffodils will go dormant by the time summer comes around...so they won't even notice that the rest of us are baking away in the heat!

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