With Texas in what is predicted to be an extended drought, Texas Native Plant Week Oct. 16-22 provides a great time to celebrate plants adapted to the state's weather extremes.
The awareness week slogan is "Proud Texans Plant Texas Natives." It is sponsored by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center of The University of Texas at Austin, the National Wildlife Federation and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Among the week's statewide activities during the fall planting season are educational talks, garden tours and other opportunities to get outdoors to learn more about native plants.
To celebrate the wildflowers and other native plants that form the backbone of the state's iconic landscapes, Dallas residents can attend a nature walk Oct. 16, at Twelve Hills Nature Center, and visitors to the State Fair all weekend can ask master naturalists about a garden they developed on site. The Garland chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas offers a talk Oct. 16 by an insect expert. Visitors to Estero Llano Grande State Park in Hidalgo can take a nature tour on an electric tram that afternoon. Austin residents can learn about native plant propagation at a Native Plant Society meeting at Wild Basin the evening of Oct. 18, and gain free entry to hear the Wildflower Center's horticulture director talk about native plants on the evening of Oct. 20, after a tour of the gardens.
More details about these activities, expert talks and lists of reliable native plants to use in yards are among the offerings in the "Urban Events and Native Info" section of the website for Texas Native Plant Week, developed by the National Wildlife Federation: http://txnativeplantweek.org/.
The site also lists suppliers of native plants and seeds, articles and other topics and information, including how to identify a plant as an aggressive, non-native one that competes with native plants for resources.
Native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, vines and grasses are often hardier than non-native plants since they are adapted to the soils and conditions of Texas. Native plants also are better able to provide food and shelter to beneficial wildlife such as songbirds and butterflies. Yet they typically require less water, chemicals and labor to maintain. Moreover, native plants provide the state's regional landscapes with their unique identities.
Texas Native Plant Week began in 2009 as a partnership of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the Native Plant Society of Texas, and others. TPWD and the National Wildlife Federation joined the partnership in 2010.
For more information, visit the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower center's Native Plant Week page at http://www.wildflower.org/nativeplantweek/.