Native plants acclimate to area over time
Jul 26, 2015
By Olivia Blanchard/Victoria County Master Gardener
Edited by Charla Borchers Leon/Victoria County Master Gardener
Editor's note: Today's article is the first in a three-part series on native plants. Read further about sun-loving perennial natives, followed by those that do well in shade or sun in next week's column and concluding with natives for specific uses in the garden the last week.
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY HENRY HARTMAN/CREATIVE IMAGES
The pink skullcap is a low-growing, mounding plant that has dark pink, nectar-producing blooms that resemble tiny snapdragons all summer long. It is known to be a food source for a wide range of pollinators and is pest-free.
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY WIKIMEDIA.COM
The blackfoot daisy thrives in any well-drained soil in direct sun. Overhead watering can cause fungus to this native with prolific and very fragrant white with yellow center blooms.
The bright yellow petals with dark black center of the black-eyed Susan provide colorful vigor with very little effort in a garden throughout hot summer months. The plant must have good drainage and can reach 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
The red yucca with long, stiff slender leaves can reach 4 feet tall. It produces spikes with coral blooms attracting pollinators spring through summer and requires minimal care.
Rainwater might have been everywhere recently but it was not too long ago that it seemed like it would not drop down anytime soon. Victoria's 2014 rainfall was nearly a dozen inches below normal but is already at 14 inches above normal this year.
Time acclimates plants to area
Time acclimates plants in an area to rainfall, wind, soil and fertility. These plants are called survivors. By choosing plants that are acclimated to the Victoria area, we can have more successful gardening experiences - even in the most challenging circumstances. The plants in this article originated from Central America, Mexico and Texas.
Perennials survive for several years and will decrease our workload in the garden.
Known characteristics of natives
I have learned a great deal about these plants since growing them in my yard and in the Native area at the Master Gardener Victoria Education Gardens.
Deadheading spent blooms prevents over-seeding. Good drainage is necessary; automatic lawn sprinklers can cause disease problems. Compost and organic fertilizers are preferred as soil additives. Besides adding blooming interest in the garden, natives are food sources to bees, birds, and butterflies.
Sun-loving natives for this area require at least six hours of sunlight. The average size of these natives ranges from 8 inches to 3 feet. They are:
Gaura lindheimer grows to a 3-foot spread and the tall 3-foot stems produce white or various shades of pinkish blooms that resemble fluttering butterflies. Mulch the plant well. It stays dormant in the winter.
Hymennoxys scaposa, the four-nerve daisy, grows 1 foot high and has a 12-inch spread. This nectar plant has yellow flowers from March to October. This tuft-like plant has narrow, gray/green leaves and looks good planted in the front of a bed.
Pink skullcap, Scutterlaria suffrectescens, has dark pink blooms throughout summer. Skullcap is a trim, low-growing, nectar-producing mounding plant that is a wonderful, no-problem addition to a yard. Best of all, it is pest-free.
The Rudbeckia hirta, black-eyed Susan, caught my eye because the hot summer doesn't dampen the vigor of the noticeable flowers for several weeks. Good drainage is imperative. This evergreen reaches up to 2 feet and spreads 2 feet. Young plants can be obtained through root divisions. The dark green leaves and brilliant yellow flowers make this plant a charmer.
Red yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora, is not a true yucca even though its long, stiff, slender leaves resemble that plant. It reaches a height of 4 feet. As the plant spreads, it can have a colonizing effect. Tall spikes produce coral blooms from spring to summer.
Verbena bipinnatifida, or prairie verbena, is a spreading evergreen that has lavender blooms from spring to frost. As the branches grow, they grow roots and the plant can become a ground cover. It is a nectar plant for butterflies. It mixes well with wildflowers.
Zexmenia, Wedelia hispida, grows up to 2 feet and spreads to 3 feet. It is an evergreen that has orange/yellow daisy-like flowers from spring to fall. The bushy clumps are drought tolerant and can be used in cactus gardens or gravelly soils.
Blackfoot daisy, Melampodium leucanthum, grows up to 12 inches and spreads to 11/2
Fleabane daisy, Erigeron modestus, stays short at 6 inches and spreads to 3 feet. It belongs to the Aster family. The small, white flowers have yellow centers. Stems root when they spread and form a mass. This is a useful plant to grow where little else would survive.
Yellow primrose, Calylophus drummondianus, stays short and spreads to 36 inches. The rich, yellow buttercup flowers open late in the day and stay open until next afternoon. That mass of yellow flowers that you see in the spring and early summer by our highways is probably the primrose.
Salvia greggi grows up to 3 feet. This woody evergreen can have red, pink, white or coral blooms from spring to frost. After the summer bloom, cut the plant back one third because it can become straggly. This drought-resistant plant is loved by hummingbirds.
Native plants are acclimated for specific areas. Nature has made them quite immune to unfavorable conditions. So, stay inside on cold, wintry days and forego covering these types of plants. During the summer heat, keep the water hose rolled up. Native plants can wait for the next rainy day.
Stay tuned for next week's article that will focus on sun- and shade-loving perennial natives, followed by uses of native plants in the garden the following week .
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 email@example.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.
• Gaura lindheimeri
• Four-nerve daisy
• Pink skullcap
• Black-eyed Susan
• Red yucca
• Prairie verbena
• Blackfoot daisy
• Fleabane daisy
• Yellow primrose
• Salvia greggi
Native plants are:
• Drought tolerant
• Low maintenance
• Six-hour daily sun requirement
• Food for animals
• Amend with compost
• Save time