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5 Best Native Plants for Houston Commercial Landscapes

6 Minute Read

Integrating native plants into commercial landscapes isn’t just a trend; it’s a conscious decision with significant long term benefits for both the environment and your commercial property’s bottom line.

In bustling cities like Houston, Texas, where climate and soil conditions can present unique challenges, choosing native plant species offers a smart and sustainable solution. Let’s explore the importance of native plants to Houston, how to select the perfect variety, and five of our favorite native plant options.

The Importance of Native Plants to Houston

Incorporating native plants into commercial landscapes in Houston, TX is not only an environmentally responsible choice but also a practical one. Native plants are uniquely adapted to our local climate and soil conditions, which means they require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides compared to non-native species. 

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By providing habitat and food for native wildlife, including pollinators such as bees and butterflies, Houston native plants help support local biodiversity. Native plants are also resilient to the weather extremes we experience here in Houston, from intense heat to heavy rains, which ensures your landscape remains functional and attractive year-round. 

Choosing to embrace native plants for Houston’s commercial landscapes not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of our urban spaces but also promotes ecological balance and sustainability.

How to Select Native Plants for Houston Commercial Landscapes

It’s crucial to remember that choosing the right plants is essential for success when integrating native species into your commercial landscape. Consider these factors when choosing native plants for your ornamental landscape beds:

  • Water Requirements- Most plants native to Houston are fairly drought tolerant, so many commercial business owners tend to over-water their native plantings. Native plants do not need the same amount of water that traditional ornamental plantings do.

  • Sunlight Requirements- Even though Houston native plants can thrive in more challenging conditions, it is still important to plant the native you select in the right location. When designing your landscape, be sure to consider which native plantings need sun and which need shade. For example, a native plant that naturally grows in full sun likely will not do well in a shady area. 

  • Size Considerations- Similar to traditional ornamental plants, many native plants will grow significantly larger after they are installed. When designing your landscape, take into account the full-grown height and width of each plant. Avoid placing tall plants in front of smaller shrubs, and ensure that plants with a wide growth habit are not positioned too close together. 

  • Color and Texture Considerations- Many native plantings, especially perennials such as Rudbeckia or Echinacea, that bloom can be used as accent pieces in a commercial landscape because of their colorful foliage. Perennials and grasses are great choices; perennials bloom at various times throughout the year and grasses such as Gulf Coast Muhly or Mexican Feather Grass produce showy and colorful plumes. During the design phase, consider your existing landscape so colors and textures complement each other.

5 Best Native Plant Selections for Houston, TX

While there are hundreds of varieties of plants native to Houston, these five options are our favorite:

1. Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaries)

This perennial grass offers numerous benefits, making it a popular choice for commercial landscapes in Houston. It is known for its showy pink plumes in the fall and beautiful wispy foliage. This ornamental grass is low-maintenance because it is drought-tolerant once established and thrives in a variety of soil types. 

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Pink Muhly Grass is also resistant to pests and disease, making it an environmentally friendly choice that reduces the need for chemical treatments and excessive irrigation. Additionally, its dense growth habit can help prevent soil erosion, and it serves as a habitat and food source for various wildlife, including birds and beneficial insects.

2. Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia grandiflora)

Black-Eyed Susan is a native wildflower renowned for its bright yellow petals and dark central cone. They are incredibly resilient and low-maintenance, thriving in a range of soil conditions and tolerating drought once established. They attract a large number of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects, which help support our local ecosystem and promote biodiversity. Additionally, they come in several varieties ranging in height and bloom density. A couple of our favorite varieties are Tigers Eye Gold and Indian Summer. 

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Like Pink Muhly Grass, their robust growth habit makes them effective for erosion control and they can be used to create visually appealing naturalized areas or borders as their blooms regenerate all summer long.

3. Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)

Known for its striking blue/purple blooms, this perennial adds vibrant color and texture to your garden from late summer to early Fall. Mexican Bush Sage is drought tolerant, thrives in well-drained soil with minimal watering once established, and is resistant to pests and disease, reducing the need for chemical treatments.

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This extremely hardy plant attracts a variety of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Its aromatic foliage can also help to deter deer and rabbits, making it a very practical choice for areas prone to these pests.

4. Milkweed (Asclepias sp.)

One of the most well-known plants native to Houston is Milkweed. The most significant advantage is its role as the primary host plant for Monarch butterflies. Monarchs lay their eggs exclusively on Milkweed, and the caterpillars feed on its leaves, making it essential for their lifecycle. By planting milkweed, you directly contribute to the conservation of the iconic Monarch butterfly. 

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In addition to their environmental benefits, they are hardy plants that can thrive in a variety of soil conditions and are drought-tolerant once established. Some species also produce fragrant flowers, adding aesthetic appeal to your ornamental landscaping beds. Milkweed can serve as a perennial or annual planting.

5. Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)

This versatile native evergreen shrub or small tree is adaptable, durable, and beautiful. They can grow to the height of 20’ and produce white flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Yaupon Holly is well-suited to a variety of soil types and can tolerate both drought and periodic flooding, making it particularly resilient in the diverse climate conditions we experience in Houston. The Yaupon Holly comes in a number of varieties as well. For example, the Dwarf Yaupon Holly is a Houston favorite. It can be trimmed to stay petitte and serve as a native formal hedge with more resistance to insects and disease.

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One of its standout features is its attractive foliage and bright red berries, which provide year-round interest. The berries are a crucial food source for birds and other wildlife during the winter months when food can be scarce.

Maintenance Tips for Plants Native to Houston

While native plants can require less water once established than ornamental varieties and thrive in various conditions, they still require maintenance to stay attractive in the ornamental landscape. Most native grasses and perennials need to be pruned back after the chance of a hard freeze has passed in the early Spring. Some perennials need the occasional removal of spent flowers and removal of dried or unwanted foliage to remain attractive.

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Partnering with an Expert for Commercial Landscaping Services in Houston, TX

By opting for native species, you’re not only making an eco-friendly choice but also a practical one that can enhance the beauty and resilience of your landscape. 

While there are countless native plant varieties to choose from, it’s essential to make informed decisions that align with your specific landscaping goals. And that’s where the experts at Monarch Landscape Management come in. With our experience with native varieties and our commitment to sustainable landscape practices, we can help you create a vibrant, resilient, and environmentally friendly landscape that stands out for all the right reasons.

Interested in learning more about Houston native plants? Fill out our contact form today!

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Image Source: Pink Muhly Grass, Black Eyed Susan, Mexican Bush Sage, Milkweed, Yaupon Holly

Written By: Monarch Landscape Management

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