Make Southeast Texas Gardening Easy

Now is a good time for all of us to focus on water conservation — before we are deeply embedded in another drought, as are numerous areas of Texas as well as parts of the United States. The availability of fresh water is limited, and it is Texas’ most precious natural resource.

Water conservation doesn’t mean as gardeners we must give up gardening or scale back our gardens. We most certainly can enjoy having a beautiful home garden, which interest while also conserving water through our plant selections. Making smart plant selections and utilizing native and Texas Superstar plants will require minimal effort to maintain plants, as there is little aftercare needed, once plants are established. This means little or no watering and fertilization are needed, other than what is provided by nature.

I tend to group Texas Superstar and native plants together into one large category. Texas Superstar plants are plants which have been rigorously tested by Texas A&M AgriLife and many plant experts, to determine if they qualify to be called Texas Superstar,

These plants are observed by experts for several years at numerous locations throughout the State of Texas, watching their performance in specific landscapes. If the plant does well in all areas of the state, it might then be added to the Texas Superstar list.

This list of plants includes annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, and specialty plants (including vegetables). Some of you might be familiar with some of the Texas Superstar plants, such as the Texas Bluebonnet, Plumbago, Laura Bush Petunia, Mexican Bush Sage, Belinda’s Dream Rose and Deciduous Holly. If you would like a complete list of the Texas Superstar plants, visit the Texas Superstar website.

Natives are exactly what the name implies, plants which are indigenous or native to Texas. Some examples of native plants include Cardinal Flower, Indian Pink, Southern Wood Fern, Black-eyed Susan, Milkweed and Texas Mountain Laurel to name just a few. Native plants return year after year, as do perennials. For more information on native Texas plants visit the Native Plant Society of Texas’ website.

Most Texas Superstar and native plants are sun-loving, so care must be taken when choosing a planting location. All are drought tolerant but will need to be watered until well-established or when rain is scarce.

The location you choose will be their home for many years. Note there are plants in both groups, native and Texas Superstarwhich can provide visual interest, structure and blooms for each season, allowing you the freedom to create your own personal, dramatic landscape for year-round visual appeal.

As a bonus, many of these plants are pollinator magnets great for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Remember, an organic garden allows all wildlife to enjoy and benefit from the show!

Planning your garden is key. So, take time and determine what you are going to plant and where. Plants that grow taller need to be planted in back, behind shorter plants, which will allow shorter plants to be seen.

Learn about the plants you have interest in by reading about them, before purchasing them or putting them in the soil.

Ask yourself these questions: Do you have enough space allotted for each plant? Are you spacing them correctly? For example, I planted a Porter Weed last year, not realizing how large it would grow. It reached 5 feet tall and wide, covering too many other plants in my bed. This year, I’m prepared, as I’ve moved smaller plants from its perimeter.

You can interplant drought tolerant plants with other plants, simply make sure they are planted with their root ball slightly elevated so their soil will drain better. If water pools around their roots, chances are they will end up dying from root rot if too wet. If you have acid-loving plants, group them together to keep their pH level higher than the other plants. It’s far less work and much easier to do this as a group instead of trying to work on the pH of individual plants.

Once you have selected your plants, water daily until well-established, (except in the case of succulents) unless it rains. Fertilize your plants according to the requirements of the plant and remember, less is more when fertilizing plants.

If you have specific gardening questions or need more information, contact the Orange County Master Gardeners Helpline: (409) 882-7010 or visit our website:, Facebook: Orange County Texas Master Gardeners Association or Email:,

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