Reid’s Nursery Summertime Favorites

Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta

Black-Eyed Susan Vine
(Thunbergia alata)

Size: can grow 10 feet or more
Water requirements: average to above average water needs, depending on the environment
Bloom: produces masses of flowers from early summer to fall

Light: Part sun/shade

This fast-growing vine will look good in a hanging basket or twining up a trellis. It has delightful blooms that look like the Black-eyed susan flower, hence the name. It is also known as the clock vine. Give it water and shade when it needs it in the heat of summer and it will reward you with trails of flowers until frost.

Lavender Hyssop
(Agastache foeniculum)

Size: up to 36 inches high, 12 to 24 inches wide Water requirements: average water needs, good drainage
Bloom: upright spikes of lavender flowers in the summer

Light: Sun to filtered shade

This interesting plant has anise-scented (think licorice!) leaves that can be brewed into a tea. Pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds flock to lavender hyssop. It mixes handsomely with other plants and is excellent in borders as well as containers. When there is a mass of plants, the effect of the lavender flowers is showy. Will reseed freely unless blooms have been clipped.

Job’s Tears
(Coix lacryma-jobi)

Size: 3-6 feet tall
Water requirements: medium; keep moist

Bloom: insignificant flower spikelets with ‘beads’ as their base, which harden in fall, turning pearly grey
Light: part shade

Job’s tears, thought to be named after the long-suffering Job in the Bible, are valuable as a high-protein food and, even more interestingly, as a source of beads for making jewelry and other decorative crafts. A tender perennial in warmer zones, treat as an annual here. The receptacles that encase the small flowers are smooth and bead-shaped and have a perfect hole inside them that make them easy to string for making necklaces and rosaries.

Almond Verbena
(Aloysia virgata)

Size: up to 15 feet high, 5 feet wide

Water requirements: low
Bloom: almond-scented white flowers spring to summer
Light: full sun to part sun

This shrub, native to Argentina, has slightly drooping branches and a flower that will scent the air with a delicious almond fragrance in spring and summer. Almond verbena is mostly evergreen, with fine-textured gray-green foliage. It responds well to light shearing after blooming. The flowers are very attractive to butterflies and bees, as well as passers-by.

Retama / Jerusalem Thorn
(Parkinsonia aculeate)

Height and Width: 12 to 20 feet
This graceful tree with the feathery leaves is tolerant of dry soils and is fast growing. It produces delicate golden flowers in the spring.
Full sun to part shade

Snapdragon vine
(Maurandella antirrhiniflora)

Size: 3-10 feet long

Water requirements: medium water, good drainage
Blooms: delicate snapdragon-like flowers spring to fall
Light: part shade

This interesting native vine is also known as ‘roving sailor’ and it’s easy to see why. Given the right conditions, this perennial vine will ramble, sprawl and climb on almost anything. Because of its diminutive flowers, it’s best appreciated up close, perhaps in a hanging basket near an entry or climbing up a trellis next to a garden bench. It’s not winter hardy in much of Texas, but it can be brought indoors when it’s cold, or used as an annual.

Malabar Spinach
(Basella alba, cultivar Rubra)

Size: vine can grow from 8 to 20 feet long (needs trellis or fence) Water requirements: average
Bloom: produces small, white-tinged pink flowers; reseeds freely
Light: Sun to partial shade

This fast-growing, heat-loving vine is not only pretty, you can also eat the delicious spinach-like leaves, which are rich in vitamins A and C and are a good source of iron and calcium. They can be eaten raw, stir-fried, steamed or added to soups. The Malabar spinach vine can be invasive, though, so just pull up the seedlings when they’re young in order to control it. It is native to India and Indonesia and so can’t take any cold. Treat it like an annual and enjoy its beautiful textured, red-stemmed leaves in the garden and/or in the salad bowl!

Mexican Flame Vine
(Senecio confuses)

Size: up to 20 feet in length
Water requirements: once established, it has low water needs and is drought tolerant
Bloom: a profusion of orange daisy-like flowers come out spring through fall
Light: Full sun or light shade

This fast-growing, woody tropical vine tends to be compact, unlike other vines and mounds unless given something to climb on, like a trellis or fence. It is seldom bothered by pests. It’s killed by frost but should easily come back in the spring.