By Matthew Abernathy, Assistant Director – Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center
Fall is the perfect season for planting a pollinator garden. Mild weather and plenty of rainfall mean plants have time to establish a strong root system before winter weather arrives. Fall planting also coincides with the migration patterns of birds and monarch butterflies. By adding the right plants to your yard, you can enjoy colorful blooms and feed hungry pollinators on their way to warmer climates.
Below are five common Texas natives to bring pollinators to your yard.
Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium ceolestinum) Blue mistflower is an excellent small perennial that will attract butterflies and other insects to your yard. Though it can reach up to 3 feet tall, it usually stays small and can make an attractive border or groundcover in beds. It can tolerate sun to partial shade and requires moderate moisture. The blue/purple flowers generally emerge from July through November.
- Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) While grasses might not be the first thought for fall color, Gulf Muhly is an attractive addition to your yard. This clumping perennial averages 1.5 to 3 feet tall and thrives in full sun with minimal water. It can be used as a border, low hedge, or a standalone plant, and the pink and purple blooms provide stunning color in the fall. As a bonus, this grass is also deer resistant.
- Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea) Scarlet Sage is lovely, readily available, and can grow in a variety of conditions, making it a wonderful and low maintenance addition to your garden. Several variants have red, white, or pink blooms, and if the conditions are right, will bloom almost year-round. The plant is somewhat deer resistant, and its colorful flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.
- Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides) Not all lantanas are Texas natives, and some are even invasive. Plant Texas lantana for all the benefits of lantana and none of the drawbacks. This species is heat tolerant, loves sun, and can thrive in poor quality, well-drained soils with minimal water. It is an excellent addition for dry and exposed areas, and the red, yellow, and orange blooms will attract a variety of pollinators. This plant will bloom from April through October but may flower longer. This medium shrub can grow up to 3 feet tall but is easily managed with pruning.
- Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) Turk’s Cap is a showy shrub in the mallow family, although it lacks the saucer-shaped flowers of its cousin, the hibiscus. The more compact red blooms are attractive to pollinators like hummingbirds, moths, and butterflies. Turk’s Cap is shade and drought tolerant, making it a low maintenance but colorful addition to your yard. This medium-sized shrub can get up to 4 feet tall but can be kept in smaller areas by pruning. It generally blooms from May through October, but may flower longer.