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A school teacher in Katy Texas asks what native plants can help the kids learn.
 
Below are the names of plants that I have suggested. Descriptions of these plants can be found on the dropdown to the left.
  Turk's Cap, Texas Lantana, Autumn Sage, Desert Honeysuckle, Texas Star, Mealy Blue Sage, Black-Eyed Susan, Giant Four O'clock, Prairie Primrose, Yarrow, Common Sunflower, Butterfly Weed, Purple Coneflower, Mexican Hat, Queen Anne's Lace, Jimson Weed.
   
A resident of Denton asks: Are there any good books you would recomend on Native Plants?
  These are some of my favorites.
 
  • Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest - by George O. Miller
  • Texas Wildflowers- by Capmbell and Lynn Loughmiller
  • Wildflowers of Texas - by Geyata Ajilvsgi
   
A lady in Hillsboro asks, how can I improve my soil? I can't seem to grow anything.
  One of the first things you need to do to grow almost anything, is to improve
the soil. I would suggest reading the page "Soil: The Key to Successful Gardening" from
the Organic Lifestyles site at the Texas A&M University. All of the links under soil improvement are well worth the read, but the most important is "Soil: The Key to Successful Gardening" (See link at bottom).

Raised bed gardening is a good way to improve heavy soils, like yours. The next paragraph after this is from the Raised Bed Gardening site at the University of Missouri. Be sure to check the diagram, showing double diging on their page. "To double dig a raised bed, remove all the soil from the bed one spade's depth. Dig the next layer down, leaving the soil in place. Return the topsoil to the bed and thoroughly mix the layers. Double digging permits deeper rooting by plants growing in the bed (See link at bottom)". Mix in organic material, layering soil and materials, as you build the bed. After the bed is finished, you need to let it "sit and work" for about three weeks. Then turn the soil with a pitch fork, then plant your plants at the
appropriate times.

The one book I find very helpful for plant cultivation and selection is:
"Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest" by George O. Miller.
I wish you the best of luck and if you have other questions, I'll be glad to try and help.

Here is a link to the advice about soil improvement.

Soil: The Key to Successful Gardening
Raised Bed Gardening

   
A Texas Gardener asks: How do you define "native", "naturalized", or "introducted" in terms of plants?  Also, how do you determine or know what plants do into which category?
  I will try to answer your question as best I can considering that i am just an amateur who loves gardening.

The task of identification was undertaken by the early botanists; Linnaeus, Lindheimer and Engelmann were just a few who helped us identify our native flora.

  • A native plant, as far as I can tell from what I have read, is one that existed on the Continent, Region or State prior to colonization.

  • A naturalized plant is one that formerly was not in a certain area but has come to that area by natural means, such as wind, birds, animals and floods.

  • An introduced plant is one that did not occur in a certain area and was planted by people on purpose, and sometimes by accident.

As far as being able to tell which plants belong in which category, your best bet is to read as many books and articles as possible. Some books that have been very helpful to me are;

    Texas Wildflowers by Campbell and Lynn Loughmiller

    Wildflowers of Texas by Geyata Ajilvsgi

    Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest by George O. Miller.

It all depends on what your goal is.
My goal is to have a garden that will be beautiful, easy to care for, and that will demonstrate the beauty and value of the wonderful plants that have been forgotten or ignored in favor exotic plants. More and more people are learning to appreciate the rich diversity and value of native plants. We hope that more commercial nurseries will offer them, so that they will be readily available.