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Water-saving, "Mostly Native" Plants
BEARGRASS (Nolina texana).

Landscaping with appropriate plants can save money and conserve our natural resources while providing a food source and habitat for wildlife. It is also important to know the ultimate growth habit of a tree or shrub when deciding where to plant it. Below is a list of plants recommended for use in the southwest part of Texas and other similar climates.

See List of Invasive Plants for plants to avoid in a landscape for our area.

Vines

  • Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) perennial, sun or shade, evergreen foliage, yellow flowers in spring
  • Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) perennial, sun, coral colored flowers in summer, attracts hummingbirds
  • Passionflower, Maypop (Passiflora foetida) perennial to 6', sun or shade, white to lavender flowers in late spring to summer, good nectar and butterfly larvae food

Groundcovers

  • Water Clover Fern (Marsilia macropoda) almost evergreen groundcover capable of covering large areas, adapts well to dry land, part shade/sun, height 1 foot.

Flowers

  • Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) perennial, part shade to sun, white flowers blooming from spring to summer, height 1 foot
  • Bluebonnets (Lupines texensis) annual, sun, blooms in spring, height 1', good butterfly larvae food, seeds can be sown fall through Thanksgiving, transplants can be planted from fall through Valentine's Day
  • Coreopsis (Coreopsis sp.) sun, yellow or orange flowers late spring and summer, attracts butterflies
  • Hinckley Columbine (Aquilegia hinckleyana) perennial, shade, yellow flowers in early spring, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, height 18"
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinaceae purpurea) perennial; part shade-sun; flowers rose, pink, white, or purple; in spring-summer attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and birds eat seeds; height 2'
  • Black-eyed Susan var. Goldstrum (Rudbeckia hirta) annual or short-lived perennial, part shade-sun, yellow flowers spring to summer, attracts butterflies
  • Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) perennial, part shade-sun, orange flowers in summer, attracts butterflies, height1-3'
  • Mexican Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) two-toned red and orange flowers, nectar and butterfly larvae food. Milkweed is the sole source of Monarch butterfly larvae food
  • Maximillian Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) perennial, sun, spectacular yellow blooms in fall, seed attracts birds, height 4-6'
  • Sunflowers (Helianthus sp.) annual, sun, available in many colors and various kinds, easy to grow and fun for kids, seed attracts birds
  • Autumn Sage (Salvia gregii) perennial, sun-partial shade, nearly evergreen, red, purple, pink, or white flowers spring to frost, attracts hummingbirds, height 3'
  • Indigo Spires (Salvia sp.) perennial, sun-partial shade, blue to indigo flowers spring to frost, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, height 4'
  • Mealy Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea) perennial; sun; blue, white, or purple flowers from spring to fall, height 3'
  • Gayfeather (Liatris sp.) perennial, sun or partial shade, purple flowers in late summer to early fall, attracts butterflies, height 1-2'
  • Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) perennial, sun to partial shade, pink flowers spring to fall, attracts butterflies, height 2-3'

Shrub or Shrub-like

  • Mistflower or White Boneset (Eupatorium havanense) part shade, fragrant white flowers in the fall, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, height 1-3'
  • Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans) sun or part shade, yellow flowers from spring to fall, freezes to ground, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, height 3-6'
  • Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus drummondii) shade, red flowers from summer to fall, attracts hummingbirds, height 2-6'
  • Evergreeen Sumac (Rhus virens) sun or part shade, evergreen foliage, white flowers in fall, red berries that attract birds, height 4-10'
  • Roughleaf Dogwood (Cornus Drummondii) large, thicket-forming shrub important to wildlife, height 20'
  • American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) shade, purple fruit in fall and winter, berries attract birds, height 3'+
  • Agarita (Mahonia trifoliolata) part shade-sun, yellow spring flowers, red fruit which is eaten by birds ripen in early summer, height 3-6'
  • Lantana (Lantana sp.) sun to partial shade, many colors, flowers from spring to frost, attracts butterflies, bird eat berries, 2-5'
  • Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) sun or shade, fine textured evergreen foliage, red or orange berries in fall and winter eaten by birds
  • Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) sun to part shade; purple, pink, or white flowers appear at any time especially after a rain; evergreen, nectar and butterfly larvae food plant, height is approximately 4-8'
  • Carolina Buckthorn (Rhamnus caroliniana) part shade to sun, fruit ripens in fall and is devoured by birds, height 12-15'

Trees

  • Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) ornamental tree, sun or shade, red or pink flowers in spring attract butterflies, height 15-30'
  • Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) ornamental tree, sun to part shade, evergreen, fragrant purple flowers in spring, larvae food plant, height to 15'
  • Flameleaf Sumac (Rhus lanceolata) sun to part shade, foliage has red fall color, white blossoms in spring, red fruit in fall attracts birds, may form thickets, 10-30'
  • Texas Persimmon (Diospyros texana) ornamental tree, part shade to sun, attractive bark, fragrant flowers in spring, black fruit on female plants ripen in fall and are favored by birds and mammals, height 10-15'
  • Smoke Tree (Cotinus obovatus) sun to part shade, purple to pink flower clusters that resemble puffs of smoke, deciduous leaves turning yellow to apricot to scarlet in fall, height 15-30'
  • Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia) relatively fast growing tree, leaves turn yellow to gold in the fall, seeds eaten by birds especially cardinals, height to 90'
  • Black Cherry (Prunus serotina subsp. eximia) fast growing tree, leaves turn bright yellow to reddish in the fall, fruits important to wildlife, height to 50'. Note: all the oaks below are good butterfly larvae plants
  • Live Oak (Quercus fusiformis) sun, acorns eaten by blue jays, scrub jays, squirrels, deer
  • Lacey Oak (Quercus laceyi) moderate sized tree, has lovely blue-green leaves, grows on limestone, height to 50'
  • Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) reasonably fast growing tree, most widely adaptive oak in the world, has large acorns, height to 150'
  • Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muhlenbergii) dark green leaves, deciduous, height to 60'
  • Texas Red Oak (Quercus texana) outstanding fall color, height to 35'
  • Uvalde Maple or Bigtooth Maple (Acer grandidentatum) part shade to sun, brilliant fall color, seeds are an important food source for wildlife, height to 50'
  • Arizona Cypress (Cupressus arizonica) sun, fast growing, lives 30-50 years, aromatic blue-green foliage, provides cover for birds and wildlife, height to 30'.
  • Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia) small tree, shade, red or yellow flowers in spring attract hummingbirds, height10-20'
  • Mexican Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa) small tree or large shrub, sun to part shade, pink flowers in spring attract butterflies, yellow fall color, height 8-15'
  • Rusty Blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum) part shade to sun, white flowers in spring, fruit ripens in the fall and is a big favorite of birds, outstanding fall foliage
  • Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana) ornamental tree, part shade-sun, fragrant white flowers in early spring attract butterflies, 15'

Grasses

  • Sideoats Gramma (Bouteloua curtipendula) sun, attractive seeds form on one side of stems, state grass of Texas, attracts birds and butterflies, height 2-3'
  • Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) part shade to sun, attractive fall color, attracts birds and butterflies, height 3'
  • Muhly Grass (Muehlenbergia lindheimeri) sun, attractive plumes late summer to fall, height 3-4'
  • Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans) sun, attractive golden plumes late summer to fall, height 3'

Compiled by Janis Merritt, Native Plant Specialist


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