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Tough Texas Trees and Shrubs for Sustainable Landscaping

by Sarah Gardner
PR/Marketing Manager at Texas Discovery Gardens

This summer tested perennials and trees in Dallas, and a few native superstars came through with hardly a scar. If you want to incorporate hardier trees and shrubs into your landscape, plant them within the next few months so that roots have time to develop before spring and summer growth.

Organic fertilizers containing phosphorous and potassium encourage root growth. Avoid nitrogen, which helps with vegetative growth. Add in compost to the planting hole, cover the area around the tree or shrub with mulch, and water sparingly for the first few months if there’s no rain.

Read on for a short list of great native, drought tolerant trees, shrubs and perennials.

Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) blooms throughout late spring to fall with violet or pale pink flowers. The trees thrive in drought and heat conditions. Native to West Texas, with an average of under 20 inches of rain a year, desert willows require little if any supplemental watering. They grow to about 15 to 20 feet high and about as wide. Look for a sunny, well-drained area.

If you would like to add a fruiting tree to your yard, incorporate the native Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana). It reaches up to 15 to 35 feet high and hosts tiger swallowtail butterflies. In the spring, fragrant white blossoms fill the tree. The small purple fruit, which can be seen along the White Rock Lake trail right now, is edible.

If you have less space and want to attract pollinators to your garden, plant Texas Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana). The large shrub/small tree doesn’t get much past 10 feet tall and has tiny white blooms.

Salvia greggii in the Benny J. Simpson Native Plant Collection Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) has been cultivated in many colors and attracts pollinators, including hummingbirds. The perennial is native to the southwestern portion of the state and thrives in sun and little water. It reaches up to two to three feet and mounds nicely. Autumn sage is planted all throughout Texas Discovery Gardens.

Salvia greggii in the Benny J. Simpson Native Plant Collection
It’s not native, but Bog Sage (Salvia uliginosa) bears a mention because of its extreme hardiness. Bog sage made it through the summer relatively unscathed on my baking balcony and has started blooming again. Contrary to the name, the plant does well with little water and high heat. It has light blue blooms and spreads easily through underground runners. Native to South America, the plant gets as high as three to six feet and provides nectar for pollinators.

Salvia uliginosa outside the Centennial House
Salvia uliginosa outside the Centennial House

Upcoming Events

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Butterfly Wonderland at Texas Discovery Gardens
Thursday, December 1, 4 pm - 9 pm
and Saturday, December 3, 11 am - 3 pm
$8 adults, $6 age 60+, $4 age 3-11 (pay at the door)

Complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres
FREE for members!

Bring the whole family for a stroll through the Tropical Butterfly House with its living ornaments, and enjoy the rare opportunity to experience our largest owl butterflies in flight. Look for whimsical ceramic sculptures by Dan and Lori Dudley with Dirt on your Skirt Studio. Their one-of-a-kind artwork makes a wonderful gift!

Enjoy the Guided Butterfly House Tour at 11 a.m. Saturday with entomologist John Watts, then shop while you sip cider, hot chocolate, and nibble on holiday treats. Special kid’s activities are from noon to 3 p.m.

Relax as you shop for gifts during the Once-a-Year Holiday Gift Shop Sale. Save 0 to 60 percent off select items. Members save an additional 10 percent! The sale extends through Saturday, Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Find details at http://texasdiscoverygardens.org/events_and_classes.php.