Top 5 plants that thrived in San Antonio in 2023

Plant these in your garden for 2024, these beat the record heat and drought

SAN ANTONIO – This year we saw record-breaking heat and extreme drought.

If anything deserves a break in 2024, it’s our vegetation that had to fight and adjust to survive.

Here are my top five picks of plants that thrived in 2023 that you should plant in your gardens for 2024. These plants survived in South Texas despite the tough conditions:

1. Zinnias:

I have been blown away by how the zinnias exploded in my garden. I watched pollinators pick drinking from a zinnia over most of my flowers. Grow them from seeds instead of buying transplants — trust me they last longer and then some.

Zinnias can tolerate super hot temperatures, but make sure to water in the mornings because zinnia leaves do burn easily if watered in the hot afternoon sun.

You can sow zinnia seeds right on top of the soil — don’t bury them. Plant them anytime after the last frost around March or April, or even as late as October.

Zinnias will bloom from spring until the first hard freeze. The zinnia seeds I planted in May are still producing new blooms at the end of December.

2. Garlic:

My garlic took off. I planted these on a whim right around Thanksgiving, and holy flavor they are doing great! I bought the garlic at the grocery store and planted the peeled cloves right in. A bonus is that garlic doesn’t need too much water and is freeze-tolerant. Also if you plant them in your vegetable garden, plant them next to plants that you have a hard time keeping pests off, because garlic is a natural pest repellant, perfect for a pesticide-free organic garden.

Garlic does need some time to cook in the ground (ready in June), but I should have a big enough haul that will last me through the season. You can still plant these in the ground right now this winter.

3. Gregg’s Mistflower:

She is the butterfly drug. If you want a build a bar in your garden for the butterflies, plant Gregg’s Mistflower. It’s extremely drought- and heat-tolerant, and is a native perennial that comes back in the spring after a winter freeze. If you build it, they will come. Plant these in the spring after the last freeze. Several of our local nurseries carry these native perennial flowers.

4. Rosemary:

When someone asks me, what is a “plant it and leave it” kind of herb, my answer is rosemary. Rosemary is heat- and drought-tolerant. My rosemary is so hearty, it has also survived the two hard freezes we had in 2021 and 2022. Also, who doesn’t love a constant supply of fresh rosemary? Fresh rosemary tastes 100 times better than dried rosemary that you buy at the store.

You can plant this now in a pot and keep it inside as long as it gets full sun by a south-facing window, and you can take it outside after our last freeze of the season.

5. Salvia indigo spires:

She is a goddess and blooms all year. Indigo spires are extremely hardy, native plants that are drought- and heat-tolerant. Bees and butterflies absolutely love her.

She makes me look like I really know what I’m doing in the garden, but the secret is she is doing all the work. Plant indigo spires, she’ll make you look good. Plant these in the spring after the last freeze. Several of our local nurseries carry these native perennial flowers.

Happy gardening for 2024, and give these plants a try!

About the Author

Sarah Acosta is a weekend Good Morning San Antonio anchor and a general assignments reporter at KSAT12. She joined the news team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for GMSA and is a native South Texan.

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