Cercis canadensis aka Eastern Red Bud Tree aka Judas tree

Medium light, medium soil moisture, low maintenance plant.

Zones 4-8

Blooms in March, deciduous, 20′-30′ tall, wide spreading branches

Attracts butterflies

Native to eastern US

Mature trees grow large brown seed pods especially in wet years

Member of bean and pea family

Problems:
Canker, wilt, dieback
Several insects love to eat this plant

Difficult to grow from cuttings, keep warm ~ 75’F if attempting to do so

Legend claims Judas hung from this tree

Salvia lyrata aka Lyre-leaved Sage

I found these growing in a boggy area along a pathway.

Perennial herb, wild throughout eastern and midwestern US, zones 5-10

Cold, wet winters will kill it, it prefers drier areas

Blooming late March ( spring – summer depending on location )

Considered invasive in some locations. Many home owners mow it after it flowers.

Considered a medicinal plant, Gray’s Pharmacopoeia (1848) lists its uses for warts and cancer but studies haven’t found any medicinal uses. aka Cancer Weed

Well liked by bees and butterflies

Easy to grow from seed

Pink Shell Prunus aka Ornamental Cherry

I had forgotten about this tree, it was so buried in deep shade in a very dry section of the garden. It has survived droughts, floods, frosts, and bright, hot Houston afternoon sun before the oak shaded it out. Despite this it’s about 12′ tall and about 6′ across. I think I picked it up at an Arbor Day Give a Way as a 12″ tall twig.

Last year I cleared out a lot of the overhead branches and it must’ve received enough sun to bloom, or the cold tripped it? Many fruit trees, even ornamentals, need several nights below freezing to flower and fruit. Be sure to check the number of ‘chill days’ needed on any fruit tree you buy. Only a few get enough nights below freezing in Houston to fruit.

Mine’s not an impressive bloomer, perhaps now that it has bloomed it’ll improve each year? I have seen many of these putting on impressive shows around town. I’m hoping with the added sun this one will too next spring.

Blooming occurs late Feb. early March

I highly recommend it. I’ll try taking a few cuttings in the fall and see how easy it is to propagate. I’d love to have a few more of these around.

Echinacea purpurea aka Purple Coneflower

Perennial, loves sun, doesn’t mind occasional dry spells, benefits from dead heading and dividing clumps every 3 years or so.

Native to North America, there are about 9 species in this genus. It’s been a garden favorite as far back as the early 1900s where it is often referred to as the ‘dull pink coneflower’

It is a strongly recommended addition to bee and butterfly gardens and said to be deer resistant

Rudbeckia hirta aka Black Eyed Susan

Not surprisingly this is in the sunflower branch of the family tree and North American native.

It loves lots of sun, tolerate occasional dry spells and are easily grown from seed or pick up a flat of the plants and plant them.

They are perennials, divide them every few years to keep them flowering.

Dead heading the plants ( cut off spent flowers before they go to seed ) will prolong the blooming cycle.

Used in traditional medicine, not all the parts are edible. ( Don’t try it at home ) There are many references to it as a kitchen garden plant as far back as the early 1800s. The older mentions all reference the orange center, not all the newer varieties still have the orange center.

Geranium carolinanum aka Carolina cranesbill

Several years ago I purchased some citronella scented geraniums ( which do not keep mosquitoes away, that’s Lemongrass (Cymbopogon ). They died off during droughts, freezes and go figure, today in its place I discovered a wild Geranium carolinanum. Only a tiny scent emerges from its leaves, I can’t quite place it.

This is a native through the middle of the US and across to the eastern states. Some authors claim it likes dry, wooded areas, others wet moist areas. Mine appeared in a sunny dry area.

One book lists it as the worst weed of the Geranium family, and that’s the kindest thing the author has to say about it. It spreads out from the roots becoming invasive. Time will tell, for now I’m going to leave it alone and see what happens.

Early flowers give way to fruits with a beak like appearance which also disperse seeds. The crane like fruit abruptly splits at the side which pulls the beak scattering the seeds a long way off. It is an annual or biennial

Can reach about 2′ in height and width.

Blooms March-May in the Houston area