Native plant gardens supply food, water, shelter and space for wildlife. By growing native plant gardens, we can provide support for birds, bees, butterflies and other pollinators. These animals pollinate many plants and enable food production, both agriculturally and for wildlife. Native plants have an evolutionary relationship with insects, which are necessary to support life as we know it. An excellent resource can be found at https://houstonarboretum.org/2016/03/planting-for-pollinators/ Check out the Seabourne Creek Nature Park’s Prairie Demo Garden to see examples of native prairie plants in a garden setting.
Photo by Wayne Poorman
Native plants provide birds with food as well as shelter. Common plants that attract birds are sunflowers, coneflowers and native grasses. Grasses also provide places for birds to nest and hide. Savannah sparrows, meadowlarks and quail can often be found among grasses in prairies.
Hummingbirds migrate through this area in the spring and fall, feeding on nectar and flowering plants. They are attracted to red, tubular flowers. Native prairie plants that attract hummingbirds are red salvia, blazing star, and passion vine.
Some butterflies, such as the Painted Lady, use several different host plants for raising their caterpillars. Other butterflies use only a specific host plant. Fritillary butterfly and zebra longwing caterpillars feed only on passion vine. Monarch butterfly caterpillars only feed on milkweed. Plants that provide nectar for butterflies include native lantana and mistflower.
Many local native bees are solitary and do not live in hives, as do the honey bees. As native bees are attracted to many different flower colors, shapes and sizes, native gardens need to supply a variety of flowering plants. Beebalm, partridge pea, mistflower, and rattlesnake master are good plants for a bee garden.