TSun, shade-loving plants provide beauty in landscape
Sep 20, 2015
By Olivia Blanchard/Victoria County Master Gardener
Edited by Charla Borchers Leon/Victoria County Master Gardener
Editors' note: Today's article is the second in a three-part series on various native plants. Read further about natives that thrive in sun and shade in the local area and look for information on special uses of native plants in next week's column.
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
Mexican heather may have a dainty appearance with its small size and tiny purple, white or pink flowers, but it is actually tough as nails, requiring very little maintenance. It is a fast-growing, compact shrub not exceeding 18 inches tall that does well in sun or partial shade with regular watering. Use it as a border plant or in container gardening.
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY CHARLA BORCHERS LEON/VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER
An evergreen that reaches 2 feet tall, the yarrow has fern-like leaves with flat bloom clusters of tiny, tubular flowers in yellow, white, red, pink or combinations of these that provide nectar for butterflies. It is drought tolerant, usually deer resistant and a good choice for a border or ground cover plant. Stems of yarrow also do well in fresh or dried arrangements.
The Texas Gold columbine is a Texas Superstar plant that withstands most any condition. It may become dormant when stressed from cold or drought, but it will survive as a nectar source for butterflies and hummingbirds with its golden yellow, tubular blooms early to mid-spring.
Having been involved in caring for the native plant garden at the Master Gardener Victoria Educational Gardens, I have seen firsthand, there and in my own garden, how native plants thrive when extreme conditions exist that greatly challenge the survival of other plants.
In the previous article published last week on native perennials that have naturalized in Central America, Mexico and Texas, they were recommended for gardens when rainfall was in the negative range. Lack of rainfall brought expensive utility bills, suffering flower beds and landscaping dilemmas. Now having had more plentiful moisture, natives will do even better in landscapes.
Natives help preserve water, lessen need for fertilizers
Incorporating drought-tolerant natives not only helps preserve water resources but also lessens the need for chemical fertilizers that leave toxins in the air, water and soil. Organic fertilizers or compost is best for the sun or shade perennial natives that are listed in this article. The tallest plant will reach only 4 feet.
Compost helps plant growth
For eons, plants have received nourishment for growth from decaying matter. The addition of compost actually improves water retention to garden soils, and beneficial microbes help plant growth. Think of compost particles as tiny sponges that absorb water that will be used by the roots. Compost loosens the soil and lets water be absorbed.
Suggested sun- and shade-loving natives
Some native perennials that prefer sun and shade to be considered for this area include the following list.
View natives at Victoria Educational Gardens
To overcome low rainfall and abnormal heat conditions, choose native plants that are sun and shade tolerant. Since these plants are more pest resistant, the hungry insect will likely leave them alone and migrate to non-native plants. The use of chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers will decrease. Composting household organics will not only help the environment but will make native plant gardening more successful.
Many of these plants have a proven track record at Victoria Educational Gardens. With the more recent rainfall, they can be combined with other perennials for a highly successful landscape outcome. Take a trip out to the airport to see the native garden and nearby plants in various other mini-gardens at Victoria Educational Gardens.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or firstname.lastname@example.org . See article at The Victoria Advocate.
Beginning July 2003, "The Gardeners' Dirt" has been published weekly, and the Victoria County Master Gardeners this past week voted to renew it for yet another year. With 12 years and 625 consecutive articles to its credit, this award-winning, volunteer-written column provides factually accurate and timely research-based information to our readers. Representing Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, we commit to continue to educate the horticulture community.
• Mexican heather
• Butterfly weed
• Texas Gold Columbine
• Coreopsis lanceolata
• Turk's cap
• Rock rose
• Texas lantana
• Silver pony foot dichondra
• Reduces organic waste in landfills
• Retains water in soils
• Promotes soil tilth
• Promotes microbial activity in the soil
• Great for native plants
• Eliminates chemicals in soil and water
• Is cost effective