Top 15 Native Texas Plants to Grow

Want to start growing Texas native plants in your yard but not sure where to start? Look no farther! Not only are these 15 Texas native plants beautiful, they are easy to grow and can typically be found at a local nursery.

That is not always the case with many native plants, so I wanted to give you a list that you were likely to be able to actually buy and put in your yard!

Once you’re ready to get planting,  I hope you’ll join me for my Native Backyard Challenge! It is a free email course to learn about natives with the ultimate goal of having you incorporate two native plants in your yard. Sign up here and get all the details at the end of this post!

Top Texas native plants
Some of my favorite Texas native plants

These plants work particularly well in South Central Texas – I live in San Antonio. Download the printable plant list at the end of this post for each plant’s TX growing range.

Don’t live in Texas but still want to grow natives? Check out these tips for finding native plants in your area.

Why It Is Important to Grow Native Plants

If you add any new plant to your yard, make it a native! Native plants are the foundation of a healthy ecosystem. These plants have evolved in your local area, while non-native plants were introduced from other countries. Native plants:

  • Are important food source to plant-eating insects and wildlife
  • Serve as host plants to butterflies and moths
  • Require less water and maintenance
  • Support more species than non-native plants

If you are new to native plants be sure to read the Top 6 Benefits of Native Plants in Your Yard. The majority of our yards are currently filled with non-native plants so there are lots of opportunities to swap in some natives and help the environment!

Finding the Texas / San Antonio Native Plant For You

To help find the right Texas plant for you I’ve organized them by what they are best for:

  • Shade plants
  • Full sun plants
  • Pollinator plant
  • Ground covers
  • Fall interest
  • Winter interest

Top Texas Native Plants for Shade

It can be tricky to find plants that want to bloom in the shade, but these three plants are stars in the shade! They can handle sun too:

1. Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii)

This pretty shade plant is one of the few with profuse blooms in the shade. It grows quickly and its tightly wrapped red flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds. This is a common plant to find at most nurseries in San Antonio. Check out all my Turk’s Cap growing tips.

Where to plant Turk’s Cap in your yard:

  • Shady corner by the fence
  • Under a tree
Turk's Cap Plant Texas Native Plants
Turk’s Cap (malvaviscus arboreus)

2. American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

This unique plant has pretty drooping branches with big green leaves. The branches sport gorgeous bright purple berries in the fall. The berries can add a bright pop of color to the corner of your yard, and the birds (especially Mockingbirds) love them!

Where to plant Beautyberry in your yard:

  • Under a tree (it can spread up to 7 feet wide!)
  • At the back of a landscaped area
  • Near a bird fountain!
American Beauty Berry plant
American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

3. Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala)

I just bought my first Rock Rose to plant in my yard after seeing it blooming around San Antonio. I plan to try growing my in a large pot on my patio. Apparently the plant only lives 3-4 years but reseeds easily. The pretty pink flowers bloom from spring to the first frost! Learn more about growing Rock Rose.

Where to plant Rock Rose in your yard:

  • In a landscaped area with part shade or dappled shade
  • In a large pot (grows 2-3 feet tall)
Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala)
Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala)

Best Texas Native Plants for Full Sun

I picked my favorite plants that look amazing in the peak of hot and sunny Texas summers:

4. Esperanza (Tecoma stans)

This is one Texas native shrub you’ll see almost everywhere in San Antonio. It is a good “entry plant” if you are growing natives for the first time. It is readily available at most big box nurseries. In addition, it is easy to grow with endless yellow blooms from April to November.

Where to plant Esperanza in your yard:

  • At the back of a perennial flower garden (can get up to 6 feet tall)
  • In a full sun xeriscape area
Esperanza San Antonio Native Plants
Esperanza (Tecoma stans)

5. Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens)

Cenizo also frequently goes by the common name Texas Sage. It happens to be the Official State Native Shrub of Texas. I love Cenizo because the silvery foliage adds such a pretty contrast to all the green in the garden. When the plant erupts in purple blooms in the summer it is gorgeous! This Texas native loves hot temps.

Where to plant Cenizo in your yard:

  • Create a blooming hedge with a row of Cenizo
  • In a full sun planting area
Cenizo San Antonio Native Plants
Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens)

Top Texas Native Plants for Pollinators

These Texas native plants have long bloom periods and are loved by butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.

6. Gregg’s Mistflower (Conoclinium greggii)

I am in love with this flower because when it is in bloom (between July and November) it is covered in butterflies. Typically the Queen Butterfly and also Monarchs during their fall migration! The soft purple flowers are so pretty too. I have Mistflower growing in a couple large containers on my patio. Learn how to grow Gregg’s Mistflower.

Where to plant Gregg’s Mistflower in your yard:

  • In a container garden
  • As part of a wildflower meadow
Gregg's Mistflower with Queen butterfly
Gregg’s Mistflower (Conoclinium greggii)

7. Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii)

The bright red flowers on Flame Acanthus are loved by both butterflies and hummingbirds. This tolerant plant can handle a variety of soils, little water and extreme heat! I am excited to plant this one in my yard. Learn how to grow Flame Acanthus.

Where to plant Flame Acanthus in your yard:

  • In a sunny spot in a perennial flower garden
  • Xeriscape area with low water
  • Container pot
Flame Acanthus with butterfly
Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii)

8. Mealy Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea)

This plant is a winner because it looks beautiful from spring through fall. It is constantly filled with purple blooms loved by bees. Birds like Lesser Goldfinches will eat the buds. It can take some shade.

Where to plant Mealy Blue Sage in your yard:

  • As an odd numbered group in a landscape bed
  • In a large container pot
Mealy Blue Sage is one of the great Texas native plants!
Mealy Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea)

Top Texas Native Groundcovers

A native ground cover is a great alternative to mulch in your landscaped areas and a way to provide visual interest as well as pollinator benefits with their blooms

9. Frogfruit (Phlya nodiflora)

This is my new favorite Texas native ground cover. Not only does it have a cute name, it is loved by pollinators and grows quickly. It can handle full or part sun. Check out my frogfruit growing tips.

Where to plant Frogfruit in your yard:

  • A bare patch of lawn
  • In place of mulch in landscaping
  • Between stepping stones
Texas native plants: Frogfruit groundcover
Frogfruit (Phlya nodiflora)

10. Woolly Stemodia (Stemodia lanata)

I have this pretty ground cover growing my my landscaping as well. It is a slower grower than Frog Fruit. Its silvery foliage reminds me of a ground cover version of Cenizo.

Where to plant Woolly Stemodia in your yard:

  • In your landscaping as a nice contrast to the green plants
  • Mixed into a container pot with other natives
The small purple flowers on the groundcover Woolly Stemodia.

Texas Native Plants for Fall Interest

11. Fall Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium)

This is a beautiful chance to add fall color to your yard. The Fall Aster plant erupts with blooms around October. The blooms are short lived but a welcome addition when other plants tend to fade.

Where to plant Fall Aster in your yard:

  • In front of flower bed
  • Mixed in with other perennials
Purple fall aster
Fall Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium)

12. Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)

The drooping seed heads of inland sea oats are some of the prettiest I have ever seen. They transition from green to golden brown in the fall. Its seeds provide winter food for birds. Inland Sea Oats are a great ornamental grass for a shady area, but they do spread easily so plant them in an area where you don’t mind having more! Don’t miss my Inland Sea Oats growing tips:

Where to plant Inland Sea Oats in your yard:

  • Shady corner where it is hard to grow other plants
  • Area with poor drainage
  • These look especially nice planted in a row along a fence, sidewalk, etc.
Inland sea oats are common San Antonio native plants
Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)

13. Gulf Mulhy (Muhlenbergia capillaris)

This might just be the prettiest Texas native grass. It turns a beautiful pinkish purple in the fall. It likes to have full sun. I can’t wait to add one to my yard once I extend my landscape beds into a sunnier area. I don’t have a picture of it, but check out these beautiful Gulf Mulhy photos on Google!

Where to plant Gulf Mulhy in your yard:.

  • In a sunny spot in your landscaping
  • Mixed in with other grasses and perennial shrubs

Texas Native Plants for Winter Interest

Every yard needs a standout berry plant in the winter. These two hollies do the trick!

14. Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)

Yaupon Hollys can be found in yards across Texas. They can withstand a variety of sun and soil conditions. Be sure to get the female tree to experience gorgeous red berries in late winter. Birds including vireos, waxwings, bluebirds and sparrows love the berries.

Where to plant Yaupon Holly in your yard:

  • Anywhere a tree is needed (tolerates full sun to shade)!
Red berries on Yaupon Holly tree
Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)

15. Possumhaw Holly (Ilex decidua)

This evergreen small tree has dark shiny leaves and the female trees have beautiful red berries in the winter. It produces the most berries under full sun.

Where to plant Possumhaw Holly in your yard:

  • A sunny spot in your yard

Ready to plant natives? Join the Native Backyard Challenge!

Native Backyard Challenge with Texas Native Plants

Sign up now for my Native Backyard Challenge! Each week in September, I will send you an email with a mini challenge to help you get to know your yard and find opportunities to make it more environmentally friendly. The goal of the challenge is a simple one: at the end of four weeks, I want you to incorporate two new native plants into your yard!

Weekly email challenges include:

  • 1st week: Identify the plants in your yard
  • 2nd week: Find two spots to swap in new plants
  • 3rd week: Identify native plants in your area that are great for the environment
  • 4th week: Get planting and pat yourself on the back!

I hope you’ll join me in the Backyard Challenge as we work together to help the environment from our own yards! Even if you’re not ready to dive in, sign up for the emails so you are prepared for when the time is right. Sign up here:

These 15 native Texas plants are not only beautiful they are easy to grow and help the environment!

PRINTABLE Texas Native Plant List

Texas native plants

Want to add more native plants to your yard? These 15 Texas natives are beautiful and easy to grow. Plus they have lots of environmental benefits!

Instructions

1. Turk's Cap

(Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii)

Range: Central, South, SE Texas, Height: 2-4+ ft, Sun: Part sun to full shade

Red flowers from Mar-Nov (loved by hummingbirds and butterflies)

2. American Beautyberry

(Callicarpa americana)

Range: Central and East Texas, Height: 3-6+ ft , Sun: Part shade

Bright purple berries in fall (loved by birds)

3. Rock Rose

(Pavonia lasiopetala)

Range: Central and West Texas, Height: 2-3 ft., Sun: Part shade to full sun

4. Esperanza

(Tecoma stans)

Range: South TX, Trans Pecos, Height: 3-6 ft., Sun: Full sun

Blooms from Apr-Nov (loved by bees)

5. Cenizo

(Leucophyllum frutescens)

Range: South Texas, Trans Pecos, Height: 3-6 ft., Sun: Full sun

Purple blooms in July and August

6. Gregg's Mistflower

(Conoclinium greggii)

Range: East TX Height: 1-2 ft., Sun: Dappled to full sun

Purple blooms from July-Nov (loved by butterflies)

7. Flame Acanthus

(Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii)

Range: South Central & SW Texas Height: 3-4 ft., Sun: Full sun

Red blooms June-Oct (loved by hummingbirds & butterflies)

8. Mealy Blue Sage

(Salvia farinacea)

Range: Throughout TX Height: 2-3 ft., Sun: Part shade to full sun

Purple blooms from April to frost (loved by bees)

9. Frogfruit

(Phyla nodiflora)

Range: Throughout TX, Height: Sun: Shade to full sun

Small white blooms from spring to fall loved by pollinators

10. Woolly Stemodia

(Stemodia lanata)

Range: Coastal, South and West Texas Height: Sun: Full sun

11. Fall Aster

(Symphyotrichum oblongifolium)

Range: Throughout TX Height: Sun: Full sun

Bright purple blooms Sept-Nov

12. Inland Sea Oats

(Chasmanthium latifolium)

Range: East half of TX Height: 2-4 ft., Sun: Full shade to part sun

13. Gulf Muhly

(Muhlenbergia capillaris)

Range: Throughout TX, Height: 1-3 ft., Sun: Full sun

Grass turns purple in fall

14. Yaupon Holly

(Ilex vomitoria)

Range: Throughout TX, Height: 12-15 ft., Sun: Shade to full sun

Bright red berries in winter loved by birds

15. Possumhaw Holly

(Ilex decidua)

Range: Throughout TX, Height: 12-15 ft., Sun: Part shade to full sun

Bright red berries in winter loved by birds

Notes

Take this list with you to the native plant nursery. Use the scientific name (in italics) to make sure you get the right native plant!

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4 Comments

  1. I have grown Pavonia lasiopetala in my yard for more than 10 years in my yard in NE San Antonio. And they can live longer than the published average life span. In the fall I removed a hedge of them that had been there fir about 8 or 9 years. It was seriously declining so we removed the lot and planted several seedling volunteers from another part of our yard. The plants look best if kept pruned in a compact form and bloom more profusely than if left to grow a few very long limbs. Fortunately, these plants survived the February freeze but died back; and are in process of putting on new growth. They did not die all the way back to roots.

    1. Janie – thanks so much for letting me know about your experience growing Pavonia lasiopetala! I currently have one growing in a big pot and it is blooming beautifully. It too survived the freeze! I also have several seedlings that I plan to transplant in my yard. It is a beautiful plant. Thanks for your tip to keep it pruned!

  2. I grow 8 of the above listed plants in my east Texas backyard and not just one or two but many. My backyard is alive with bees, butterflies, birds, skinks, frogs, etc. I only wish others in my area would do the same, but they don’t. I feel like I’m the Lone Ranger of east Texas when it comes to growing native plants. The closest-to-me Native Plant Society of Texas chapter is no longer in operation. It doesn’t seem to be a popular idea here. I wish I had other people to commiserate with.

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