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Mr. Smarty Plants - Native plants for East Texas school gardens

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Monday - May 19, 2008

From: San Augustine, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Wildlife Gardens
Title: Native plants for East Texas school gardens
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am a teacher in San Augustine, Texas (which is in the Eastern Pineywoods region). I have started an outdoor classroom/schoolyard habitat at our school. We are in the process of planning our plant selection and I am overwhelmed. I need to have several raised beds with themes but I am trying to stay native (for NWF and TPW certification) as well as please my administration by having a very pretty garden. I have several lists of native plants but I am struggling with knowing what will satisfy my requirements of type as well as my administrations requirements of beauty. My two largest beds will be the following (all beds will have purchased landscapers mix for soil and will be irrigated by drip lines): butterfly/hummingbird garden (20' x 40')(which I am going to try and get certified as a monarch waystation. (monarchwatch.org) east texas native bed (20' x 65') Any help that you could pass my way would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:

First, let's start with East Texas natives. I know you have lots of lists already, but maybe you need the right lists for the job. Please visit our" Recommended Species" page and click on the eastern section of Texas and you will get a list of plants that are commercially available and native to East Texas. On the same "Recommended Species" page you will see below the map in "Special Collections" a link to Butterflies and Moths of North America which gives a list of host plants for butterflies and moths. This list is for all of North America, but you can use the "Narrow Your Search" option and limit the list to those found in Texas. You can then compare that list to your Recommended Species list for East Texas so that you are sure that the plants you choose are native there, rather than, for instance, West Texas.

You already know about MonarchWatch.com and the Texas Monarch Watch page has a wealth of information to help you. The following list shows species in the Family Asclepidaceae (milkweed family) that have been found in San Augustine County or in adjacent or nearby counties (* identifies species most important to the monarch, according to Texas Monarch Watch).

Asclepias amplexicaulis (clasping milkweed)

Asclepias longifolia (longleaf milkweed)

*Asclepias oenotheroides (zizotes milkweed)

Asclepias obovata (pineland milkweed)

Asclepias perennis (aquatic milkweed)

Asclepias rubra (red milkweed)

Asclepias tomentosa (tuba milkweed)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Asclepias variegata (redring milkweed)

Asclepias verticillata (whorled milkweed)

*Asclepias viridis (green antelopehorn)

Matelea gonocarpos (angularfruit milkvine)

Matelea cynanchoides (prairie milkvine)

The Texas Host Plants for Butterflies and Moths list will give host plants for butterflies other than the monatch.

Your beds are going to look beautiful in the spring and summer when the plants are blooming, but when fall and the first freeze arrives, those plants are not going to be quite so attractive. You will have perennials that come back out in the spring and annuals that will have reseed themselves, but it would be nice to have some plants that remain attractive all year round so that your administration will be pleased with your gardens. Here are some suggestions for plants that will be attractive all year long to include with the flowers you choose.

Grasses: Although grasses are not evergreen, many are very attractive when they have matured and turned brown in the fall as well as when they are green.

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

 
Ferns: These are evergreen and have a pleaseing shape.

Athyrium filix-femina (common ladyfern)

Thelypteris kunthii (Kunth's maiden fern)


Sedges: Sedges are also evergreen.

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Carex vulpinoidea (fox sedge)


Vines: These are two evergreen vines that produce beautiful red flowers that attract hummingbirds. You would need some sort of framework for the vines to climb.

Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle)

Bignonia capreolata (crossvine)


Miscellaneous evergreen:

Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto)


Asclepias oenotheroides

Asclepias tuberosa

Asclepias viridis

Chasmanthium latifolium

Schizachyrium scoparium

Schizachyrium scoparium

Bouteloua curtipendula

Athyrium filix-femina

Thelypteris kunthii

Carex blanda

Carex texensis

Carex vulpinoidea

Lonicera sempervirens

Bignonia capreolata

Sabal minor

 

 

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