Use natives strategically in garden
Aug 09, 2015
By Olivia Blanchard/Victoria County Master Gardener
Edited by Charla Borchers Leon/Victoria County Master Gardener
Editor's note: This article is the last of a three-part series on native plants. Read further about strategic uses for various natives when planted in the landscape.
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY WIKIPEDIA.ORG
The pigeonberry plant is a groundcover-sized native evergreen that does well in shade under shrubs or trees. Tiny light pink and white spring flowers precede red berries like those shown on this plant in the fall. Birds consume the berries although they can be harmful to humans.
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
Mexican feather grass is a very heat- and drought-tolerant native. Its feathery appearance adds texture to a xeriscape or cactus garden, swaying in a breeze from a grounded clump. For best results, cut it back before new growth in the spring.
The coral honeysuckle vine climbs up to 20 feet on arbors, walls, trellises or screen supports. It is as attractive to the gardener for its beautiful clusters of tubular coral color as it is to graceful wildlife like hummers and other birds.
Each of two previously published articles discussed native perennials that can be grown in a sunny locale and in a sun/shade environment. This third set of native plants can be used strategically in a variety of ways in the garden to accomplish certain goals.
Reasons for planting natives
I became acquainted with several of these plants since moving to Victoria County. The unpredictable rainfall led me to search for a list of plants that can be used in various ways and still require minimal care.
Some reasons for using natives include adding vertical interest, adding texture to the setting, planting for ground cover, providing food for wildlife and even providing spice ingredients for food items.
Natives can be added after wildflowers die
I wrote previously that I oversee the native area at Victoria Educational Gardens (VEG) for the Victoria County Master Gardeners. Once the annual wildflowers were gone, I began to add more perennial natives to the beds. Merging them adds texture and content to the landscape during seasonal transition periods.
Texas natives that can be strategically used in the garden include the following.
Look for natives across Texas
Texas natives exist with a variety of types, sizes and blooms and can be utilized in multiple applications to enhance your landscape. They also have drought, heat, pest and disease resistance. As you travel in Texas counties, you can spot these plants in the environment.
Gardeners know that wind, soil, rain or temperatures can veer the best of plans off a normal course. However, selecting certain native plants for the Texas landscape will withstand these unpredictable conditions. The use of natives has the gardener using less water, less commercial fertilizer and less labor. This is a gardener's wish come true.
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, or comment on this column at VictoriaAdvocate.com.
• Vertical interest
• Addition of texture
• Ground cover
• Nectar for hummingbirds/bees
• Berries for birds
• Leaves/berries for vinegars
• Berries for cooking
• Mexican flame vine
• Mexican feather grass
• Chili pequin
• Coral honeysuckle
• Mexican mint marigold
• Soft leaf yucca
• Buffalo grass
• WHEN: From noon to 1 p.m. Monday
• WHERE: Pattie Dodson Public Health Center
• COST: Free to the public; bring your lunch
• TOPIC: "Year-Round Vegetable Gardening," presented by Victoria County Master Gardener Dick Nolen