It’s that time of year to head over to EarthShare Texas member Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (LBJWC) for their Spring Native Plant Sale. For 7 consecutive weekends, every Friday through Sunday, LBJWC has “perennial and annual flowers, grasses, vines, shrubs, and trees for shady and sunny gardens,” while the sale lasts (until May 8th). This final weekend all remaining inventory will be 25% off.
EarthShare Texas’ content writer recently visited the Spring Native Plant Sale and spoke with Jay Caddel – Greenhouse Specialist (and Plant Sale Lead) – about the on-going sale and how native plants benefit gardens and ecosystems. “Our whole mission is to educate about native plants,” said Caddel.
Native Plants: Pollinators, Hosts, and Resistance
“The Native Plants made it through the big freeze in 2021. It’s because they’re native…” said Caddel. “They are able to take the weather better than having tropicals in the landscape. That’s what we’re trying to educate people with is Native [plants] are better: you don’t have to water them as much, don’t have to care for them as much.”
At the sale, each plant has signage (with QR Codes). This is to educate shoppers/gardeners on the myriad benefits the plant brings to a garden, where the plant originates in Texas, and specific comments on each plant. Some signs have Yellow and/or Purple magnets (Y: pollinator plant, and P: child-friendly plant). “Some plants are poisonous,” said Caddel, “[and] fortunately lots of people coming through bring kids with them. [The magnets] are a way for us to get across to parents that this is something you can put in your garden that kids are gonna enjoy.”
Listed under the benefits section, these native plants can help with deer resistance or attract birds or act as larvae hosts. “Deer resistance is huge in this area,” Caddel mentioned, “[plants] have a minimal, moderate, or high deer resistance. Some [plants] will have an interesting smell the deer don’t like or it’s a tactile thing, [deer] don’t like the texture of the leaf.”
Native Plant Resources
How do the native plants fare in differing locations of Texas considering the sale is located in Austin? Caddel answered, “We generally concentrate on [plants] native to Central Texas. Most [of our plants] want a dry landscape. But we have a database that covers the country. The QR codes will pull up information from the website that will tell [people] what kind of soil [the plant] likes, the watering, the specific insects or birds [the plant] attracts. [The database] has links to the USDA and other websites you can click on that will give more information about the plants.”
During the sale, “We have volunteers who package and sell the plants, we have a plant selection assistant who will answer questions about the plants, and usually we’ll have gardeners who come and help,” said Caddel. “We don’t grow everything we sell, we get some from other nurseries that specialize in native plants: [such as] Native Texas Nursery and Far South Nursery. They do a really good job growing the plants and we’re able to supplement those [along with] what we can grow. This weekend there are 92 different varieties [of plants]. [People] can go to the website, click on the plant list for the sale, and find something specific.”
Buy Local, Plant Smart
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center hosts two Native Plant Sales, one in Fall and one in Spring. With only one weekend remaining, now is a perfect time to set your sights and soil on buying and planting natives. If you want to get involved, LBJWC needs volunteers to help with their blossoming endeavor. Visit the sale and learn more about the benefits of native plants.