Gardening with native plants great for ecosystem, wallets


The options of plants and trees are endless at our local nurseries. But if you chose some native options, you are going to quickly find, these are low maintenance and actually help our ecosystem.

Carolyn Anderson and her two kids are looking for the perfect pumpkins for their garden.

"We just started a garden but we are learning. We are new gardeners," Anderson said.

But what Anderson doesn't know is that there are specific native plants that are easy to grow. So we turned to Steve Hupp with the Bayou Preservation for advice.

"We been working to preserve and protect and restore the bayous in the Houston area," Hupp said.

And part of that is educating Houston gardeners about the big selection of native trees, shrubs and plants that work well in our ecosystem.

"What's so good about stretching your dollar with native plants is they thrive on neglect," Hupp said. "Get them started right and they will be very easy to maintain."

Hupp says native trees to consider planting in Houston is an obvious choice: a live oaks for it's hardiness. But better native trees to plant are those that are underutilized; for example, the southern magnolia is considered tough as nails.

"Beautiful leaves and blooms," Hupp said.

Another top native is the bald cypress.

"It belongs in this habitat," he said.

If you want one of Houston's best, hardiest natives, yaupon is one of the best.

"It's an evergreen, it has berries on it, the birds love it, the blooms, it's got pollinators. To me, yaupon is probably one of the best shrubs and it has a lot of visual appeal," Hupp said.

If you are looking for a plant that attracts birds and offers excellent cover for privacy, Hupp says wax myrtles are a great native.

For flowering plants, look for the blue mist flowers, Turk's cap and wood ferns.

Something else to keep in mind: There are some exotic plants that will actually become invasive and expensive to remove. Some of those trees include Chinese tallow and loquats. Shrubs include Jerusalem cherry and heavenly bamboo, and plants include purple trailing lantana and yellow flag iris.

On the Bayou Preservation website, you can find 200 native plants that are commercially available and those that are considered exotic and invasive.

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