Keep It Wild


When you walk the grounds of Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen, you see the beauty of our native plants growing wild around the urban sanctuary. Not only are they beautiful, but they significantly help our wildlife in a time when a small percentage of native plants remain in the wild. The Granjeno (gran-hen-oh) is an example of a “giving” native plant from our region. The evergreen shrub will attract many birds to the sweet fruit in your garden. We find Green Jays, Mockingbirds, Cardinals, and Long-billed Thrashers eating the tiny orange berries. The berry-bearing plant appreciates the birds and other animals spreading their seeds.

The Rio Grande Valley enjoys a number of different habitats, with over 1,200 reported native species. There are plants found here that occur nowhere else in the United States. With plenty of sunshine but low rainfall, most of our native plants tend to have small leaves. A beautiful woody plant for your garden is the Guayacan (whuh-yah-can). It vaguely resembles the appearance of a northern evergreen, and in the spring, you’ll see violet flowers and fruit supporting the wildlife.

Another must-have for your native garden is the popular Turk’s Cap. The red flowering plant provides nectar to support hummingbirds. In no time, you’ll welcome the Buff-bellied Hummingbirds, a year-round resident in the Rio Grande Valley, to your yard.

With such a large palette of native plants, we selected over 100 species that are more readily available for purchase at nurseries and or may readily be found growing in the region. These species are featured in a new guide titled “KEEP IT WILD-Native Plants of the RGV.” Texas artist Don Breeden designed the guide, available in the Quinta Gift Store. It was developed to encourage the use of native plants in places where we work, live, and play.

When creating your garden environment, include pieces of wood/stumps for shelter and décor.  Add water for the wildlife, even a simple shallow bowl, or drip onto a rock. Remember that native plants can coexist with what is already growing in your garden. Celebrate our regional beauty at home and help create a habitat corridor to support our birds, butterflies, and all living things. Follow Quinta Mazatlan on social media for workshops on creating a small wildscape at home!

Colleen Curran Hook