Capture the beauty of an early Texas spring — plant ornamental trees and shrubs. They’re some of the first to flower and are early nectar sources for pollinating insects and hummingbirds.
One of the keys to successful gardening is seasonal interest. It’s important to utilize plants that keep your garden visually appealing all year. To capture the beauty of an early Texas spring, you may want to include some of these plants in your yard.
Ornamental trees and shrubs are some of the first to flower. Early nectar sources are important for pollinating insects and hummingbirds. Do our native critters a favor and plant these drought tolerant beauties.
Ornamental trees and shrubs:
Mexican plum (Prunus mexicana) – This deciduous, small tree has dainty white flowers, nice golden fall color and songbirds love the fruits.
Texas redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) – Small pink flowers can be pale or vibrant, heart-shaped leaves turn pale yellow in fall, one of my all-time favorites! Redbud makes a great understory tree and is deer-resistant.
Agarita (Mahonia trifoliolata) – Tiny golden flowers are incredibly fragrant while evergreen, blue-gray leaves keep interest all year long. Edible fruits attract songbirds and can be made into jelly for human consumption. Deer-resistant.
Scarlet (Aesculus pavia) or yellow buckeye (A. pavia var. flavescens) – This early bloomer has lovely red or yellow flowers and palmate leaves. Oddly, the leaves drop during the hottest months of summer, this is totally normal for this plant so don’t panic. These are some of the first trees to leaf-out in spring, plant in partial shade. Wintering hummingbirds love the nectar. Deer-resistant.
Mexican buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa) – Pretty pink flowers appear very early in spring, decorative seed pods are retained throughout the cooler months on a multi-trunked structure. This is a very easy and fast-growing tree to start from seed. Deer-resistant.
Golden groundsel (Packera obovata) – Sunny yellow flowers atop 1-1/2 foot-tall stems attract butterflies and other pollinators. Deer-resistant, plant in partial shade.
Texas groundsel (Senecio ampullaceus) – You can easily recognize this plant in open fields as few other plants are blooming at this time. Similar flowers to golden groundsel, but Texas groundsel is a larger, more robust plant. Plant in full sun.
Engelmann daisy (Engelmannia peristenia) – Look for this bright yellow-flowered perennial along roadsides and in fields. This plant can do well just about anywhere in San Antonio as long as it has sun. Engelmann daisy seeds are eaten by many species of birds and deer may nibble this plant.
Passion vine (Passiflora incarnata L.) – The flowers produced by this genus of plants are extremely intricate and attractive. Larval host plant for the gulf fritillary, Julia heliconian and the zebra heliconian butterflies. This vine will die back in winter, but return in spring. Deer-resistant.
Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) – Native to east Texas, this vine has bright yellow flowers and can be planted in sun or partial shade, it will die back in winter. Very attractive to butterflies. This plant is poisonous if ingested.
There are plenty of plants to choose from, some may work in your yard, while some may not. Remember to intersperse evergreen accent specimens such as Big Bend yucca, sotol, Spanish dagger, Texas mountain laurel, Arizona cypress, agave, cactus and cenizo to maintain interest throughout the changing season.
Sarah Galvan is a conservation consultant and has been passionate about gardening since she was a child. She is an arborist, an herbalist, a Texas master naturalist and holds a native landscape certification. Before coming to SAWS, she worked as a native landscape designer where she focused on supporting native birds and pollinator populations. When she’s not answering garden questions or working on her biology degree she enjoys hiking, kayaking, bird and butterfly watching, and competing in plant identification competitions