Native Plants in the Texas Homeowner’s Landscape
Native plants are plants that have adapted to the geography, rainfall levels, and climate of a particular region. Native plants occur in communities, that is, they have evolved together with other plants. As a result, a community of native plants provides habitat for a variety of native wildlife species such as songbirds and butterflies.
The reason you might want to consider incorporating native plants into your landscape is that they provide a beautiful, hardy, drought resistant, low maintenance area to your landscape, while benefiting the environment. Native plants, once established, save time and money by eliminating or significantly reducing the need for fertilizers, pesticides, water, and lawnmowers.
Flame Acanthus Native Plant
Hummingbirds go wild over these gorgeous orange-red flowers. While Flame acanthus does fine in xeriscape gardens, a bit of water does improve the bloom. Cut the plant back in winter, to produce the most blooms in spring. A lovely spreading perennial that does fine in full or partial sun.
Fall Aster Native Plant
As the name implies, this plant is at its glorious best in fall, when it blooms in wild profusion. Fall Aster proves that natives can be big bloomers and spectacular additions to any garden. This plant requires full sun, but will tolerate rocky, sandy and acidic soils.
Lanceleaf Coreopsis Native Plant
This is the easiest to grow of all the coreopsis. It tolerates partial shade and does well with very little water, although adding water during droughts will lengthen the blooming season, as will deadheading. Bees and other pollinators love this plant, so be cautious around patios and pools.
Blackfoot Daisy Native Plant
Blackfoot produces a show of daisies from early spring right through fall. It is drought resistant, often found along roadsides and tolerant of poor soils. All that this little plant needs to keep on blooming is good drainage and at least partial sun.
Lantana “New Gold” Native Plant
Give this wonderful perennial full sun and little else is required. New Gold will thrive in poor soils with little water and it doesn’t mind the heat, but it does need full sun to really produce a show. An aromatic lantana, that is an absolute butterfly magnet.
Texas Lantana Native Plant
One of the most cheery classic Texas natives of all. This evergreen perennial, with its pretty yellow and orange blooms, is just as happy in a garden as it is on a rolling hillside. A truly low maintenance plant, that is drought tolerant and doesn’t mind some shade, Texas Lantana will bloom for you all summer long.
Turk’s Cap Native Plant
A delightful shrubby perennial that produces an abundance of hummingbird friendly bright red flowers, even in the shade. Turk’s Cap prefers shade but will tolerate some sun.
Cedar Sage Native Plant
One of the few plants we know of that tolerates both shade and full sun. The Cedar Sage is perfectly adapted to Texas and able to take poor soils and hot weather. Keep your soil well-drained, and Cedar Sage will produce a show all summer, with gorgeous red flowers, as well as hordes of hummingbirds.
Heartleaf Skullcap Native Plant
This is an awesome perennial that emerges early and thrives in shade. Enjoy beautiful blue blooms all through the spring. Tends to die back in summer in extreme heat, but provides a wonderful early summer show.
Purple Skullcap Native Plant
Pretty but tough. This little native blooms in May and will keep producing those lovely flowers all summer long. Prefers full sun to part shade, and well drained soil. Other than that, plant it and don’t worry, it is drought and heat resistant.
Four Nerve Daisy Native Plant
This bright flower is ideal for borders and beds in full sun. Planted in mass groupings, the Four Nerve Daisy makes a bright stunning show, with flowers reaching up above the foliage to catch the sun. It is often found wild on roadsides, proving that the Four Nerve Daisy can tolerate almost any soil or water conditions, although light watering will produce more blooms.
Texas Betony Native Plant
A terrific choice for a hummingbird garden, Texas Betony is one of the prettiest native flowers. It is also one of the longest blooming, producing flowers from spring through fall. Deadheading will increase the number of blooms. While it can take partial shade, the Betony does best in sun. Grows up to 36″ high and spreads the same amount.
Lyre Leaf Sage Native Plant
A low-growing leafy native that loves Shade. Makes a great ground cover in shady areas and tiny blue flower clusters grow on the stalks. Very nice for a shade garden.
Skeleton Leaf Goldeneye Native Plant
This shrubby evergreen is a late season bloomer, producing profuse small yellow flowers against the dark green foliage. Prefers bright sun, it reaches a height of 1′-2′, with a spread of 2′-3′.
Black-eyed Susan Native Plant
The ultimate wildflower, adapted to the home garden. Black-eyed Susan is naturally heat and drought tolerant, and prefers full sun. The bright yellow flowers grow to a height of about 3′, forming in compact clusters for a burst of color. Butterflies love this plant, and it will put on a great show for you all season long, and re-grow with almost no effort on your part the next year.
Rock Rose Native Plant
In its initial growth phase, Rock Rose looks like nothing other than a giant weed. But then, one day in spring, all of those glorious blossoms burst forth and you realize that the little weed is actually a rather beautiful flower. Rock Rose blooms from spring through fall. It does best in full sun, but will tolerate part shade.
Walkers Low Catmint Native Plant
Silver-grey foliage and violet-blue flowers from spring until first frost. Walkers Low is a tough mounding perennial that grows up to 24″ tall, and thrives in full sun to part shade.*
Chili Petin Native Plant
A low growing plant, that produces a bushy mound that can spread up to 5′ wide. It becomes covered in small (less than 1″) bright red peppers. Best of all, it can be grown almost anywhere, from full sun to shade, in beds or in containers, and it is even tolerant of salty soils.
Winecup Native Plant
An herbaceous perennial with nice big 2 1/2″ flowers, which are almost reminiscent of tulips. Will cascade over walls, Winecup is drought tolerant and grows best in full sun.
Calylophus Native Plant
A great plant for attracting butterflies, with big two inch flowers. This plant takes full to partial sun, and is evergreen in most of Texas.
Dwarf Katie Native Plant
Native Plants. Plant it, neglect it, forget about it. You won’t stop this plant from growing and blooming. Long lance-shaped leaves spread from the center, and blue flowers finally emerge in spring through summer. Dwarf Katie requires at least some sun, but is one of the most tolerant of plants as far as moisture conditions go, being both drought tolerant and able to survive in wet soils.*
*Plants identified with an asterisk are cultivars, that have many easy-care and drought tolerant characteristics of true natives.
For more information on native plants, follow these links:
Wild Ones Natural Landscapers is a 23-year-old non-profit organization devoted to restoring native ecologies and promoting environmentally sensitive horticultural practices.
The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center has a comprehensive list of resources for every state.
National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program tells the basics for starting a backyard wildlife habitat.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Landscaping site has information about reducing energy consumption through the use of native plant landscapes.
Ken Robertson’s write-up on the tallgrass prairie of Illinois features excellent photos of many dry prairie species.
The University of Wisconsin Herbarium features photos and descriptions of all plants native to that state.
The Soil Conservation Service’s Midwestern Wetland Flora describes more than 300 species with photos.
There’s lots of info about milkweeds at the Monarch Watch site.