Native plants are more successful as landscape plants than non-native because they have adapted to our local conditions. Native plants sustain our native wildlife, from organisms in the soil to herbivores and carnivores. The more familiar we become with native vegetation, the more we can appreciate and enjoy them.
When selecting native plants for Hays County, we must take into account a number of environmental factors. The right plant for the right place is key. Consider the amount of natural light, drainage, and soil conditions in the potential location. Check the mature size and growth habits of the plant and its water and sun requirements. Think about deer resistance and choose plants that benefit wildlife, whether it’s providing berries, seeds, and nest sites for birds, or tubular flowers for the hummers, or nectar and leaves for butterflies.
Check yards, parks, and other areas landscaped with native plants near you to see which plants are doing well. The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin is an invaluable resource where the majority of the plants are identified.
Support reputable local nurseries that sell native plants. They generally carry better plants than those you can find at the big box stores, and they are usually more knowledgeable about what it takes to plant and grow your future landscape.
We may not sense it consciously, but a person’s natural surroundings are essential in creating a sense of place. In the background of every landscape, native plant communities are the most visible but unrecognized element in the feeling we develop for a place – the green stuff we cannot name but expect to be there wherever we go. If that green stuff is replaced by plants from other landscapes – exotics nurtured in artificially controlled horticultural environments – then we are no longer in a richly diverse and unique central Texas landscape. In a world of homogenized landscapes where the same few dozen commercial or escaped invasive plants are everywhere, what appreciation can we develop for one place over any other?