Via THE MONITOR
Native plants and wildlife have been here a long time in the Rio Grande Valley. Like people here, the native plants and wildlife tend to be hardy, good looking, well-adapted to life in the Valley and able to take care of themselves.
Our native plants and animals lived here for thousands of years before people arrived. Native plants found ways to grow in all our soils — from the heaviest clay to sand — and have adapted to the huge variations in climate here.
Some animals fed on native plants and were important parts of the food chain for other animals. Animals naturally distributed plant seeds, creating plant colonies throughout the Valley. Most importantly, our native plants and animals were successful without any help from people!
As people settled permanently in our area they turned much of it into ranches, farms, groves, cities and suburbs. Native plants lost places to grow and native animals lost food from plants and places to live among them.
Remember the part about plants and animals succeeding here on their own? They still can. All native plants need is a place to grow. So plant some in your yard or spread seeds along a fencerow or in a pasture. Encourage natives — let them grow and then re-grow year after year. Any space can become a piece of native habitat.
Native plants are no fuss, no hassle plants! They are naturally resistant to most plant pests and diseases, and seldom need fertilizer. They get by with whatever rain that falls. You don’t need to be an expert gardener to help out nature with natives.
Where there is plant habitat and a water supply, animals will come to them. A small space in town might attract birds and butterflies, as well as lizards, raccoons and opossums. A larger area of native habitat outside town can be home to the full range of native plants and animals.
Unsure how to get started? Visit any one of our many local parks and talk with staff or park guides or contactrgvctmn.org.
Editor’s note: The Rio Grande Valley Chapter Texas Master Naturalist develops knowledgeable volunteers dedicated to the study and conservation of natural resources and natural areas in the lower Rio Grande Valley. They help the natural world through service, outreach and education.