Now that you know the basics of native plants, it’s time to choose plants to grow! Here are my five favorite sources for learning about native plants and choosing which ones to add to your yard:
1. Get a native plant book
While a wealth of information exists on the internet, nothing can quite replace paging through a book, especially one with great plant photos. I like to keep a book of plants in my state on my coffee table. It is helpful to reference regularly as I start to become more familiar with Texas natives. In addition, a laminated pocket guide with some of the most common plants in your area is also helpful for beginners. I’ve complied a list of the best native plant books and pocket guides by state and region for you:
2. Check out the National Wildlife Federation plant finder
The National Wildlife Federation has developed a great tool to help you find the native plants for your area that serve as host plants. Just enter your zip code and they will show you results ranked by the number of butterfly and moth species that use them as host plants for their caterpillars. Prioritizing these types of plants in your yard is a surefire way to attract more insects and bring your yard to life! The tool is still in beta, but it is a great place to start your search.
3. Explore the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center database
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has the most comprehensive database of native plants in North America. You can find a list of plants in your state (or Canadian Province). You can also search for plants by their scientific or common name. Once you have a plant list you can filter the results by the amount of sunlight they require, bloom periods, size of mature plant, and more!
4. Connect with your local native plant society
Native plant societies are volunteer-operated organizations dedicated to preserving native habitats and encouraging the use of native plants in developed areas. Many states have their own native plant society, which can further be divided into chapters. The Native Plant Society of Texas is divided into 30 different chapters to cover the variety of ecological regions in the state.
Joining your local native plant society is a great way to become well-versed in local plants and meet other native plant enthusiasts! Many societies offer free native plant classes in person or virtually. The Native Plant Society of Texas even offers a Native Landscape Certification Program. In addition to being a great resource for information, native plant societies often offer volunteer opportunities and hold native plant sales.
5. Find a local native plant nursery
Time to go see the plants first hand! When shopping for native plants your best bet is to skip the big box nurseries like Home Depot and Lowes. Instead seek out a local nursery that carries or specializes in native plants. We’re in the process of creating a list of native plant nurseries by state. In the meantime, try Googling “native plant nurseries near me” and check out the search results!