What is so special about October 16-22, 2016? It’s Texas Native Plant Week!
The State of Texas designated the third week of October Texas Native Plant Week to celebrate the benefits provided by our native plants. You may be asking, what exactly is a “native plant”? A native plant is a species that is naturally found in a given location, and is part of the eco-region. This means that it has not been introduced to the area, either intentionally or unintentionally. Native plants can make a great addition to your yard or garden, or better yet, they can make up your whole garden.
Because native plants are naturally part of the local ecosystem, they have adapted to local climate conditions, are more resistant to local pests, and support local wildlife habitats. They can take the hot Dallas summers. Once they are established, they don’t require intensive watering like many exotic varieties of plants. They also support our local, native pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, bats, and hummingbirds; these insects and animals prefer native plants, since they evolved alongside them. They also require fewer to no chemical fertilizers and pesticides that can harm pollinators. This makes native plants a wise choice for pollinator conservation.
Native plants are essential to healthy ecosystems, but how do they benefit the citizens of Dallas?
- They make our roadways, parks, and yards beautiful to look at, and it turns out that experiencing nature lowers your stress level.
- Since they are drought tolerant and grow naturally in local soil, they need less water, chemicals, and lower general maintenance compared with non-native plants. Although you will still need to mow and periodically trim and prune native plants, they will save you time, labor, and money.
- Native trees planted around your home help reduce your energy use by providing shade and keeping your home cooler.
- Many of our native plants and trees have very extensive, deep root systems that help hold soils in place, reducing erosion. During heavy rains, they also help prevent stormwater runoff, and keep more water in the soil.
- Native plants and trees are a vital food source for many animals, and they provide nectar and pollen to pollinators.
Now is the time!
The third weekend in October was chosen to be Texas Native Plant Week because temperatures start to drop, and Dallas historically gets a lot of rain this time of year. That makes right now the best time to establish native plants in your yard or garden. Get out there and grow!
- Green Dallas resources
- Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center – searchable database of native plants
- The Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) & The NPSOT Dallas Chapter
- The Dallas County Master Gardener Association
If you are looking for example of what can be done in your yard, look at the gardens in Crawford Memorial, Everglade, Kiest, and Lake Cliff parks. There is also a demonstration pollinator garden at Dallas City Hall.