Nothing brightens the landscape like colorful flowers and foliage, and spring is a perfect time to add color. Whether you have a small or large area, or just a container, now is the time to plant. The garden centers are full of so many choices. Think of color first but also consider location size, plant size, sunlight, blooming period, soil type and whether the plant is an annual or perennial. Once you decide on the location and size of the area that you want to plant, determine the number of hours the area receives sunlight. Some plants thrive in full sun and some require shade. Garden-center personnel will gladly make suggestions for plants once you determine the requirements. Small areas look particularly good with a mass of one color, a variation of a color or a potpourri of colors. Large areas allow for more options for color schemes and plant size.
Petunias are good in the landscape, in containers and in hanging baskets. A few other annuals that thrive in a North Texas spring and summer are ageratum, cockscomb, fibrous-rooted begonia, coreopsis, cosmos, cleomes, marigolds, phlox, portulaca, many salvias (of which many are perennials), sweet alyssums, sunflowers and zinnias. A good source for perennials with pictures is the Texas SmartScape Web site at www.txsmartscape.com. Check the plant search list by color, plant size and blooming time. Some of my favorite perennials include lantana, Turk's cap, Salvia greggii, mealy blue sage, calylophus, coreopsis, garden phlox, day lily, iris, blackfoot daisy (only for very dry locations), oxeye daisy, rain lily, Zexmenia and the Chinese ground orchid. After matching plants to their proper location, soil preparation is the next step. The heavy clay soil in this area requires an addition of compost for plants to thrive. Add expanded shale if planting perennials, and don't forget to add mulch.
Dotty Woodson is the Water Resources Specialist at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Reach her at 972-231-5362 or firstname.lastname@example.org.