Superstars that defy Texas heat
Here we are in July and August, the part of summer when the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” becomes every gardener’s earwig. Texas Superstar® plants can help our gardens stay alive as the blast furnace revs up. According to the Texas Superstar information brochure, Superstars are a group of plants that undergo “several years of extensive field trials by Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the TAMU AgriLife Extension Service” across Texas. These plants have to show superior performance under the tough growing conditions in Texas, while receiving “minimal soil preparation, reasonable levels of water and no pesticides.”
Members of an executive board, advised by horticultural professionals and landscape designers, decide which plants are chosen as Superstars. They have to perform well in a variety of landscapes, be easily marketable, and be producible in sufficient numbers to meet consumer demand. Once a plant meets these requirements, they get stamped with the Superstar label.
Because of the demanding trials, Texas Superstars are widely adapted across the state. They are rated by cold hardiness zone – the coldest places for which they are adapted. Some are labeled as being deer-resistant and many are also pollinator friendly. Superstar status has been given for annuals, perennials, woody shrubs including roses, trees, and some yummy edibles. Where to start?
Some ideas on what to plant
Celebrate the Red, White, and Blue with ‘Tidal Wave Cherry’ Petunias (Petunia x hybrida ‘Tidal Wave Cherry’), Cape Plumbago (Plumbago ariculata), and ‘White Stream’ Alyssum (Lobulria ‘White Stream’).
Perhaps go Pink, Purple and Yellow using Butterfly Deep Pink Pentas (Pentas lanceolate), purple Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis), and Texas Gold Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha var.hinckleyana ‘Texas Gold).
Interested in foliage plants? Try purpley-bronze ‘Princess Caroline’ Napier Grass (Pennisetum x ‘Princess Caroline’), hot pink to red ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ Alternanthera or Joseph’s Coat (Alternanthera dentate ‘Brazilian Red Hots’), or Variegated Tapioca (Manihot esculenta ‘ Variegata’), a tropical chartreuse/yellow leaved beauty grown as an annual in most of Texas.
A few Superstar fruits and vegetables
Looking for edibles that can stand up to our climate? Check out ‘Arctic Frost’ Satsuma (Citrus reticulate ‘Arctic Frost’), ‘Natchez’ Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus ‘Natchez’), ‘Green Magic’ Broccoli (Brassica oleracea ‘Green Magic’), and ‘Dwarf Cherry Surprise’ tomatoes, also known as ‘BHN 968’ tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum ‘BHN968’)
Not enough room to list them all here, but there are so many more Superstars available to keep your garden “stayin’ alive” in mid-summer. Be sure to look for the Texas Superstar® logo on plant tags. A list of nurseries which carry Texas Superstar plants is under the Retailers tab on the Texas Superstars website at http://texassuperstar.com/index.html
A full-color brochure is available online at https://agrilifetoday.tamu.edu/2020/06/26/new-texas-superstar-brochure-updates-highlighted-plants/