We all know that nothing tastes, or looks, as good as something from your own garden. Well you can increase that feeling of pride by planting native and heirloom plants from Texas. These plants and veggies have adapted to the climate in their native soil and can help those of us who’s green thumbs wilt in the Texas heat. Going native also adds a certain charm to your home garden where you feel like you’re a part of the natural landscape, and they’re environmentally friendly in a number of ways. Even if you’re unable to plant native plants in your own garden you can search out wild plants to harvest from, or just enjoy learning about Texas.
Switching from Hybrids
Cross pollination happens naturally, but it can also happen selectively by gardeners, farmers, and companies. Hybrid plants often produce the desired fruit for a season or two, and may settle out, but they often revert to the parent plants and the produce will change as a result. By getting native, heirloom seeds, harvesting the seeds, and making sure they only pollinate with their like plants you can maintain a consistent crop that grows easily in Texas soil. John Dromgoole is a great Texas resource for maintaining an organic garden, and he also has helpful YouTube videos like this one which shows you how to save heirloom tomato seeds.
Common Native Plants
- Peppers: The most dominate being the Chile Pequin. This is the smallest pepper but is still quite hot and it is believed to be the first strain of wild pepper. It is very easy to find, harvest, and grow in a garden.
- Berries: The Southern Dewberry is a Texas native blackberry and grows around shady creeks. The Red Mulberry is the native strain of mulberries in Texas and grows in the same areas as the Southern Dewberry. Varieties of hackberries and barberries are also scattered around the state.
- Prickly Pears: These deserve a warning because they grow on cacti, and cacti are sharp, and can hurt, a lot. But they’re also delicious and if prepared right are a great summer fruit. Once again, learn how to prepare them because the fruit has spines in the skin as well.
- Climbing Vines: Honeysuckles, Crossvine, and Passion Vines are all found in Texas. These climbers are great for bringing in butterflies and hummingbirds to lighten up a backyard.
- Salvias: No, not the stuff you can smoke… well maybe they are, but they’re also colorful native flowers that slightly resemble snapdragons.
- And many more! Grasses, nuts, shrubs, trees, all kinds of plants, are native to Texas and can be used to flush out a garden with usual low maintenance.
Economic and Ecological Benefits
Native plants have adapted to the hot, dry climate that is across much of Texas. This means that they are generally low maintenance and do not require as much water as a plant used to a wetter client, saving you time and money. Your garden will also look better in the middle of summer and droughts as native plants are more resilient. Native plants in your garden will be able to pollinate with wild plants, boosting the natural ecosystem in your area.
While going completely native might not be an option for you, flushing out your garden and lawn with native plants is beneficial. Your property will blend with the surrounding area and you’ll attract more butterflies, birds, and bees who are attracted to the flowers and seeds. Plus, you’ll save yourself from trying in vain to save an expensive plant that just isn’t suited to Texas’s climate.
Shane Hobbs is the owner of Dalworth Rug Cleaning, a Dallas based textile cleaning company. The business was founded in 1976 and has evolved through the years to provide comprehensive cleaning services such as Oriental rug cleaning, preservation, repairs, wrapping, and storage.