No Such Thing as a Green Thumb
By Joy Scott
Texas Master Gardener
Most cities and municipalities in the southwest region of the United States have become proactive in educating citizens about the responsible use of water. One area of emphasis is selecting landscape plants that are native, or naturalized, to the region. The city of El Paso offers some great ideas and examples of different ways to use native plants in the home landscape at the website https://elpasodesertblooms.org/.
We live in the Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North American. The plants that thrive here have adapted to the arid, sometimes harsh growing conditions. With careful planning, a landscape can be created utilizing the Chihuahuan Desert native plants. A major advantage of native landscape plants is their ability to survive and thrive on less water. Most plants need regular watering when first planted. Once a root system is established, many native plants can survive on natural rainfall. Drip systems are an effective and efficient way to keep a native plant landscape watered and thriving.
Late summer is a great time to plant native plants. Most of the rainfall in this region usually occurs in July, August and September. Planting a native plant during this time of year can help a transplant transition to being a healthy part of the landscape. Plants can be grown from transplants, root divisions, pad cuttings or seeds. If you are patient, a low-cost way to grow native plants can be through seed collection. An excellent article from New Mexico State University that discusses seed collection can be found here .
Another great resource for learning more about native plants is the Native Plant Society of Texas. Their website has a 40-page downloadable guide for native plants specific to our region, You can access this @ https://npsot.org/plant_lists/BigBendList.pdf. The Trans-Pecos chapter of the Texas Native Plant Society in Alpine is hosting a 3-day educational seminar in Alpine, September 22-25. This will be a great opportunity to learn more about the native plants of our area. Many of the presentations will be available via Zoom.
Native plants are an excellent choice for landscaping in Far West Texas. They are typically easy to care for and have a low water requirement. With careful planning and selection, it is possible to create an attractive green space for your personal environment. Everyone can benefit by embracing advice from a cactus, “Conserve your resources, be patient through the dry spells, get plenty of sunshine, accentuate your strong points, stay sharp!” Happy Gardening!