Category Archives: NICE!

Natives Instead of Common Exotics: plants promoted; nurseries

NICE! Summer 2013 Plant of the Season

Zexmenia, Wedelia texana: Perennial yellow blooms from spring through fall in sun or partial shade

ZexmeniaDescription: Zexmenia (Wedelia texana, formerly Zexmenia hispida), also called Orange Zexmenia is a perennial native to central and west Texas south to Mexico.  Although this member of the daisy family is evergreen in the southern part of its range, in north Texas, it dies back to the ground each winter.  Zexmenia usually reaches 1.5 to 2 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide, although specimens can reach 3 feet tall.  It has 2 to 3 inch long, narrow ovate/lanceolate gray-green leaves that are rough to the touch.  The leaves may be coarsely toothed or slightly lobed.  In full sun, Zexmenia is upright; if planted in partial shade, it may recline like a ground cover.  Zexmenia can be propagated by cuttings or by seed.

Flowers and Seeds: Zexmenia has 1 to 1.5 inch yellow-orange composite flowers from late April though November.  The seeds are similar to sunflower seeds, but much smaller.

Planting sites: Zexmenia should be planted in sun or partial to dappled shade. It can also grow in shade, but it will not flower as much. Zexmenia is adaptable to most soils as long as it has good drainage.

Watering Instructions: Like many Texas natives, Zexmenia may need supplemental water during its first growing season. After it is established, it will thrive on existing rainfall and is very drought tolerant.

Comments: Zexmenia is dependable for summer color and is easy to maintain.  It is a larval host for the Bordered Patch butterfly and attracts other butterflies.  Birds eat its seeds. The rough leaves make it deer and grasshopper resistant.  Consider planting Zexmenia as a tall ground cover or in mass instead of Asian jasmine, English ivy or vinca.  It also works well in a border by itself or with other native yellow-flowering perennials like sundrops (Calylophus), lance-leaf coreopsis and Missouri primrose or with purple-blooming Texas natives like prairie verbena.  Zexmenia may be pruned to about half its height by July to re-shape it or for fuller growth, but this is not necessary.  In winter, cut it back to the ground.

Written by Dr. Becca Dickstein

NICE! Spring 2013 Plant of the Season

Golden Groundsel, Packera obovata: Spring flowering perennial ground cover for shade

Golden groundselDescription: Golden Groundsel (Packera obovata) is native to north central and east Texas.  When not blooming, it is 3 to 6 inches tall, with rosettes of ovate, 1 to 2 inch long, deep green leaves with serrated edges.  Its bottom-most leaves may be purplish on their undersides.  The leaves remain attractive year-round. Golden Groundsel’s roots are stoloniferous, forming runners that make dense colonies.  It can be propagated by transplanting the new plants formed by the stolons.

Flowers and Fruit: Golden Groundsel is one of the earliest flowering native plants in our region, flowering from early March and into April.  As its name suggests, its flowers are deep yellow, and about ¾ inch across. Golden Groundsel blooms with multiple flowers on each plant, held high above the foliage – the flower spikes are usually 14 to 24 inches tall.  Each plant blooms for about 2 weeks. Golden Groundsel's seeds are dispersed by the wind.

Planting sites: Golden Groundsel should be planted in shade, part shade or dappled shade.  It is adaptable to most soils, but like many other natives, it needs good drainage.

Watering Instructions: Like many Texas natives, Golden Groundsel may need supplemental water during its first growing season. After it is established, it will thrive with existing rainfall.  It is drought tolerant.

Comments: Although Golden Groundsel may be a little hard to find, it is worth the search.  It self-propagates slowly, not becoming invasive. Its evergreen leaves provide a year-round ground cover and remain green, even in a dry summer.  After flowering, Golden Groundsel can be mowed.  Its golden spring blooms make it a favorite for early spring.  It can be part of a woodland or formal shade garden, mixing with native violets, Hinkley Columbine, White Avens, Horseherb, or Lyreleaf Sage.  Consider planting Golden Groundsel as a ground cover instead of Asiatic jasmine, English ivy or vinca.

Look for the NICE! Plant of the Season signs and information sheets on your next visit to a participating North Texas nursery.  Thank you for using native plants in your landscapes.

Written by Dr. Becca Dickstein

NICE! Winter 2013 Plant of the Season

Mexican Feathergrass, Nassella tenuissima: Small-medium perennial grass with airy foliage

Mexican Feather grassDescription: Mexican Feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima) is native to west Texas, New Mexico and Mexico.  It is small-medium sized fountain-like bunchgrass, growing 1-2 feet tall, with flower spikes adding up to an additional foot in height. It has finely textured light green leaves that are tightly furled inward giving them a graceful, filamentous look.

Flowers and Seeds: Mexican Feathergrass flowers in late spring with 6-12 inch silvery-white to very light green spikelet flower clusters or panicles that stand above the leaves.  The flowers have slender awns that are 2-3 inches long.  The panicles ripen to golden brown in the summer and into fall.

Planting sites: Mexican Feathergrass thrives in full sun and can tolerate partial shade.  It does well in most soil types, but it must have good drainage.

Watering Instructions: Like many Texas natives, Mexican Feathergrass may need supplemental water during its first growing season. After it is established, it will thrive with existing rainfall.  It is drought tolerant, although it can go dormant during an extended drought.  It cannot tolerate excessive moisture.

Comments: Mexican Feathergrass is used in landscapes because of its airy delicate foliage that sways gently in the breeze.  Its soft leaves provide contrast to more rigid leaves of other plants and garden hardscape.  Because of its small size, Mexican Feathergrass can be grown in containers. It can be propagated by seed, collected in summer by combing through the plant.  After three seasons of growth, Mexican Feathergrass' leaves persist throughout the winter.  Even though it is mostly dormant, cutting it can slow the plant down from its new growth in the spring, so don't cut it back until new spring growth appears. Mexican Feathergrass' leaves may be used by birds for nesting material.  It is deer resistant.

Look for the NICE! Plant of the Season signs and information sheets on your next visit to a participating North Texas nursery.  Thank you for using native plants in your landscapes.

Newsletters 2012

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