Awesome and Under-used Natives

Erin Conant

It’s time to branch out and try something new. Renew your landscape with natives. Now, those of you who have been gardening in south central Texas for a while may not be surprised by the selections I’m about to mention. But those who are relatively new to gardening or new to the area may be a little weary of seeing the same plants in every yard.

Esperanzas, salvias and Asiatic jasmine are all over the place. And while they are outstanding plants for our area, here are some natives that are just as beautiful and tough, but receive much less notoriety than they should:

Anaqua – Arborist and Texas forester Mark Peterson boasts that the anaqua is virtually indestructible once established. They’re also wildlife magnets, attracting bees, butterflies and birds. A handful of local nurseries do carry this tree, but be aware that it tends to perform much better in deeper soils, making it the not-so-ideal choice for thin, rocky soil.

Flameleaf Sumac – This little, native tree helps make up for the lack of fall color here. Its bright red and orange leaves in fall are absolutely captivating and it’s very heat tolerant.

Mountain Sage – A perfect choice for thin and rocky soils, mountain sage has beautiful crimson blooms that almost seem to glow. If you plant this, the hummingbirds are sure to come!

Orbexilum – I see the same few groundcovers used over and over again in landscapes across San Antonio. Why not try something different? Orbexilum or mountain pea is a dense, native and evergreen ground cover that sports pretty purple flower clusters that bees love. Try it as a substitute for Asiatic jasmine in dappled shade. 

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