Red hot, cool blue Texas Superstar plants
Firebush and blue plumbago make a super presentation, using the warm reddish-orange Hamelia patens, with the cool blue Plumbago capensis. These two plants provide a striking contrast in the birding area at Victoria Educational Gardens.
August 13, 2009

by Nancy Kramer,
Victoria County Master Gardener

edited by Charla Borchers Leon,
Victoria County Master Gardener

Editor's note: This is Part I of a two-part series on Texas Superstars presented by color. Next week's article will include a list of plants with color photo descriptions and suggestions for planting.
Texas Superstar plants are plants that are tried and true for Texas - and there are super selections with flowers of every color in the rainbow to choose from. When I was teaching school, I always used "Roy G. Biv" to teach the sequence of colors of the rainbow - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

If you're looking for red, look no further - the red knock-out rose could be the beauty for you. If you're looking for orange, firebush or Mari-mums may be a super choice. Gold star esperanza just may be the perfect yellow flower for Texas - and who could go wrong choosing a plant called Grandma's yellow rose?

There is never a lack for various shades of green among the superstar plant foliage. Plumbago or the Texas bluebonnet are both cool blue choices. Durantas and salvias come in beautiful shades of indigo to violet or purple. My favorite choices of the purple-shaded flowers are the Texas lilac vitex and the Laura Bush petunia.

You can see many of the Texas Superstars at Victoria Educational Gardens at the Victoria Regional Airport and get ideas for using them in your landscape. See photos at our Web site,

Where to find Texas Superstars

Recently, I presented a Power-Point presentation on "Annual and Perennial Color for the Landscape" at the Victoria County Master Gardener Association's "Lunch and Learn with the Masters." It was easy to find plants for every spot and use in the landscape from the Texas Superstar plant list, which has grown to more than 40 different kinds of plants. These plants are proven to be winners in the landscape all over the state of Texas. They are proven to need less pesticides and less water, as they are drought-tolerant, and above all else, they are colorful.

A Bit about Combining Colors

There are a few things to consider when adding color to your landscape. Remember that when you add red, orange and yellow, these are considered warm colors and excite the viewer. They are attention grabbers and pull the viewer into an area. Reds and warm colors tend to make a large area feel more intimate by seeming to come forward or closer.

Blue, purple and green are cool colors and tend to relax you. If you are considering a meditation garden, cool colors would be the best choice. Cool colors seem to make a small area feel larger. Supposedly they make you feel cooler, when it is hot outside . yeah, right.

Many times, groupings of just the cool colors or just the warm colors are used to bring unity to a landscape. You can tie together different areas in your yard by using several of the same warm color groupings, or by using several of the same cool color groupings. You may want to use a warm color grouping to pull the viewers attention away from an unsightly area in the landscape.

The Color Wheel

Often, a warm color is used with a cool color, such as yellow and violet to give a striking contrast to the landscape. Remembering the color wheel, the three primary colors are yellow, red and blue. The secondary colors come from a blending of the primary colors, such as orange, violet and green.

Blue and orange are opposite colors and are attention grabbers in a flower bed. Opposites on the color wheel are often referred to as complementary colors. Just think how powerful it is to have red flowers in front of green foliage. In my opinion, a great combination of Texas Superstars plants is the reddish-orange firebush with the blue plumbago.

Another way to group colors is to use a harmonious scheme, where 3 or 4 colors that are next to each other on the color wheel are used, such as yellowish green, yellow, yellowish orange, and orange. For these groupings, go to

I've heard the comment, "When you put lots of different colors together, your landscape might start to look garish," but many different colors of flowers are so natural looking, too, that maybe garish is the look you desire. To me, lots of colors feel fun and whimsical. It truly should be about what you like, although a garden's style, size and situation may dictate color choices.

In landscape design, a monochromatic color scheme, or using one color tends to be more formal and using many colors, more informal. A monochromatic grouping would be all flowers in the yellows, such as new gold lantana, gold star esperanza, Texas gold columbine, yellow Mari-mums, yellow purslane, etc. A great source for using color is found here at the Aggie Horticulture site:

Sales for Research and Marketing

Superstar plants are easy to identify with their plant tag, and will become easier to locate locally. According to Dr. Doug Welsh, AgriLife Extension horticultural science associate department head, the wholesale growers are providing superstar plants to independent nurseries. And in recent news, "Texas Superstars will now, for the first time, be available throughout the 139 Lowe's stores in Texas," Dr. Welsh said. "Home gardeners now have more opportunities to purchase superior plant materials specifically tested for their adaptability to Texas' tough environmental conditions." Lowe's donates a nickel back to Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension for every Superstar plant sold with the Superstar plant tag, which aids in more superstar research, trials, and promotion.

Next week, look for a continuation of this article.

Annual Plants
Texas bluebonnets
Texas maroon bluebonnets
Burgundy sun coleus
Plum parfait coleus
Bunny bloom larkspur
Laura Bush petunia
Tidal wave petunias
VIP petunia
New wonder scaevola

Perennial P
Texas gold columbine
Flare hibiscus
Lord Baltimore hibiscus
Moy grande hibiscus
New gold lantana
Trailing lantana
Dwarf Mexican petunia
John Fanick phlox
Victoria phlox
Mexican bush sage
Henry Duelberg salvia
Blue princess verbena

Per-Annual Plants
Duranta, Brazilian sky flower
Gold star esperanza
Variegated tapioca

Woody shrubs
Knock Out rose
Marie Daly rose
Texas lilac vitex

Deciduous holly
Shantung maple
Lacey oak
Chinkapin oak
Chinese pistache

Specialty Plants
Phalaenopsis orchids
Satsuma mandarin
Tomato 444


Annual - A plant living (growing, flowering, producing seed) and dying in only one growing season.

- A plant that lives multiple years; i.e., shrubs and trees.

Shrub - A woody plant less than 15 feet tall with usually more than one trunk.

- A colloquial term (by Dr. Jerry Parsons, creator of the Texas Superstar Program) for a perennial plant that is so strikingly beautiful, it is sold and planted annually so the owner does not have to wait to grow it to the beautiful stage.

Herbaceous perennial
- A plant living multiple years, but with the tops, leaves, stems and flowers dying back to the ground each fall with the first frost or freeze. New plants re-grow from the roots.
Superstar plants, like the Moy Grande perennial hibiscus, can now be found at Lowe's. This Texas giant bloom, with its 12-inch flower, was created by crossbreeding an 8-inch hibiscus with a 10-inch hibiscus, and is the largest known hibiscus flower. Notice the Texas Superstar logo on the plant label. All plants with this label sold at Lowe's will generate a nickel back into the Texas Superstar program.
Yellow bells, or gold star esperanza, thrive in scorching heat. Shown here next to pavement, they are located in a bed outside a black iron fence next to a lake in the Colony Creek subdivision in Victoria.
Blue plumbago, planted around the base of an ornamental pear tree, adds a cool feeling to the landscape. It can even be planted around a pool area to give a cooling effect to the hottest of settings.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or, or comment on this column at