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Create an explosion of flora in your summer landscape

Here’s a dozen drought-hardy denizens that’ll dazzle long after summer fireworks have fizzled out.

Fireworks season is almost upon us! Brightly colored shooting lights at night, colorful blooms blazing across our landscape by day — the summer heat won’t stop me from heading out to enjoy the show!

After spring flowers fade, you can elicit oohs and aahs with these summer stars that will dazzle and thrive in our hottest months with minimal water. San Antonio is deep in drought, so keep this list handy for the fall planting season if you’re looking to make your yard more resilient.

Capture the comet effect

Bursting straight up into the air, these flower stalks won’t fizzle out.

  • Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ has deep purple, shooting star style blossoms that feed butterflies and hummingbirds in the hot months through November. Keep it happy with watering every ten days.
  • Red yucca is a summer powerhouse requiring very little water. Curving evergreen leaves make it a year-round standout and its coral flowers shoot up to 5 feet tall and attract hummingbirds.
  • Standing cypress grows in tall spikes up to 6 feet, bursting into red tubular flowers with orange spots inside. This dramatic Texas native will catch the eye of hummingbirds and neighbors alike.
  • Blazing star will keep the fireworks going with pinkish-purple blooms August to November. This showy Texas native thrives in perennial gardens with thin soils or a pocket meadow.

Shooting stars

Whether they’re more like a comet or a crossette, you decide. But these two sweet shrubs display fireworks at their tips.

  • Flame acanthus also unfurls its fiery, reddish-orange tubular flowers in summer and fall, supporting hummingbird populations. This small Texas native shrub tolerates drought and a range of soil types.
  • Mexican oregano displays cool clusters of pale lavender to white blossoms in spring and summer. This semi-evergreen shrub repels deer with its aromatic scent while drawing bees and butterflies with its nectar.

Arching blooms

Delicately trailing, willow fireworks are a childhood favorite of mine. Replicate the effect in your yard with these beauties.

  • Almond verbena streams a profusion of tiny white flowers with an extremely entrancing vanilla or almond scent. This fast-growing shrub is irresistible to pollinators, including bees and butterflies. Whitebrush is our native bee-brush.
  • Firecracker plant’s name says it all with explosive little red flowers hanging at the ends of graceful, arching stems. A hummingbird favorite, the vibrant display can go on and on from April through November. Unopened flowers make a delightful popping sound if you tap them on your hand.

Star-crossed love

Resembling a crossette firework, our native snow-on-the-mountain is another showstopper for summer and fall with its uniquely variegated green or white leaves. You may want to just enjoy it growing wild in the Hill Country as the toxic white sap of this spurge can irritate the skin. It is a nectar source for butterflies and bees.

wild flower

Pistil power

Impressively electric, the American basketflower is a breathtaking native wildflower beloved by bees and visited by birds in the fall for its seeds. It reminds me of the appropriately named pistil firework or the chrysanthemum firework.

Tiny sparklers

Damianita’s tiny yellow flowers shoot up April through July and add cheerful color to full sun areas with very little water needed. This Texas native evokes sparklers in my mind — can you see it?

Create fireworks with foliageYucca rostrata

Intensely stunning, Big Bend yucca reminds me of a brocade style firework with its bold gray-green leaves bursting out above its trunk. It’s exceptionally beautiful and drought tolerant, but much like fireworks, take care with placement. This yucca’s leaves are sharply edged.

Looking for more ways to capture the spirit of summer with low-water-use plants? See how to plant some patriotic pride.

And if you’re evaluating your yard at summer’s end, remember you can keep your landscape exploding in gorgeous color and pollinators without blowing up your water bill by choosing native plants or well-adapted and well-behaved ones — and use our WaterSaver Landscape Coupons to help cover the cost!

Sasha
Sasha
Sasha Kodet is a conservation planner whose large garden attracts a myriad of wildlife and curious neighbors with minimal water. At SAWS, Kodet develops outdoor programs to help people create their own beautiful, water-saving landscapes. She draws on her two decades of experience as a naturalist, botanical garden educator and event planner. Kodet enjoys (really) long walks in the woods and has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail.
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