Thanks to books such as the easy-to-read and thought-provoking Nature’s Best Hope by Doug Tallamy, we know how important it is to maintain native plants – not just “out there” in parks and wilderness areas, but in our own backyards. Pollinators, birds, and insects have been declining precipitously, and each and every one of us can do something to help.
One of the best ways to help is by including native plants in your landscape. Locally, you can find native plants and advice on their care from Robledo Vista Nursery, located in Radium Springs and a regular vendor at the Farmers and Crafts Market of Las Cruces. Sierra Vista Growers in Anthony, NM also carries a selection of native plants. Both Robledo Vista and Sierra Vista have comprehensive lists on their websites of what they have in stock.
Make sure you choose plants that are native to our Chihuahuan Desert environment—plants that are native to northern New Mexico will not do well in our hotter region. Also, even though hardy plants from Africa and Asia may do well here, resist the temptation. Our unique environment is under siege from non-native species that crowd out what truly belongs here, placing unprecedented strain on our native pollinators, insects, and birdlife.
How do you know what plants to add to your Las Cruces garden? We asked the experts at Native Plant Society – Las Cruces what to look for, and Joan Woodward provided this useful and practical list of the best native plants that are not only great to add to your space but are locally available.
- Honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa var. torreyi)
This large shade tree has bee-pollinated flowers and a nitrogen-enriching root system that’s good for the soil.
- Desert willow (Chilopsis linearis)
Beautiful orchid-like flowers grace this tree, enticing hummingbirds and bees to visit.
- Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa)
A large shrub with airy flowers, Apache plume is drought-tolerant and provides good cover for quail and other birds.
- Desert honeysuckle (Anisicanthus sp.)
This deciduous shrub with flame-orange, nectar-laden flowers is attractive to solitary (native) bees and hummingbirds.
- Turpentine bush (Ericameria laricifolia)
Our local variety, ‘Aguirre Springs,’ has vivid, late-season golden flowers on fresh evergreen foliage.
- Penstemons (Penstemon spp.)
Hummingbirds love these plants, which are grown easily from seed.
- Chocolate flower (Berlandiera lyrata)
A delicious chocolate aroma emanates from its yellow flowers in the morning! This lovely little plant also spreads easily.
- Tufted evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa)
The saucer-sized white flowers on this plant bloom at night in the spring. It spreads slowly by seed and is very drought-tolerant.
- Beargrass (Nolina texana)
This low-water-use evergreen makes a handsome accent plant. Bees and wasps pollinate beargrass.
- Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphillitica)
This unusual blue-green, drought-tolerant plant has finger-y stems that produce pink flowers in the spring.
- New Mexico agave (Agave parryi and varieties)
Blue-green and symmetrical, this round and attractive agave is happy in full sun, meadows, and under trees.
- Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima)
The shiny, green, feathergrass foliage dances in the wind. This short-lived, cool-season grass reseeds easily.
- Muhly (Muhlenbergia spp.)
Numerous muhly grass species are available. This type of grass forms clumps and provides structure in meadows and under trees.
Written by Elaine Stachera Simon for LasCruces.com
Photo Courtesy Mountain States
Posted by LasCruces.com