Native Plant Hedgerow Suggestions
We have a small commercial cut flower operation in Van, Texas. One of our gardens is just to the east of a 100-foot-long hedgerow. The hedgerow is established, but has not been tended for years so is somewhat overgrown. We would like to fill this hedgerow with hardy, native plants that would encourage beneficial insects in an effort to minimize the need to spray our flowers for pests. We are committed to organic practices on our farm. We have several honeybee hives, and are hopeful that they would also benefit from some flowering shrubs, plants, small trees. This area is not under irrigation. Can you make some recommendations based on our sandy loam, fairly neutral pH soil?
Van Zandt County Texas horticulture
Sorry for the delaying in answering this. I wanted to make sure I had the right information to send to you. I contact Laura Miller - Horticulture Extension Agent, Tarrant county for her insight.
All kinds of bees, both honey and native bees, are looking for pollen for protein and nectar for carbohydrates. Many beneficial insect adults such as flower flies (Syrphids) are looking for the same food sources while their larvae are insect predators. Other insect predators each insects through all their life stages. This would be true for lady beetles, assassin bugs and spiders.
The perfect hedgerow would have both insectary plants for nectar and pollen, and plants that have host specific insect pests to serve as supplementary food for insect predators.
I have lots of ideas for the insectary plants, but as for natives that host specific aphids I am not so sure. Native milkweed, and there are several Asclepias species that are native, but they are not usually available for sale, would fit this decribtion. I usually recommend crape myrtle for this purpose, but that is not native. As long as they don’t treat the hedgerow with insecticides, there will probably be some food there for beneficials.
On to the pollen and nectar providers—I will start with trees, and then move into shrubs and annuals/perennials.
Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)
Redbud (Cercis spp.)
Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia)
Possumhaw holly (Ilex decidua)
Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria)
Cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana)
Mexican plum (Prunus Mexicana)
Eve’s necklace (Sophora affinis)
Shrubs, sort of:
Viburnums (V. rufidulum, prunifolium or dentatum)
Elderberry (Sambucus spp.)
Prickly Pear (Opuntia spp.)
Flowers: so many, but pretty much anything in the asteracea aka all those Darn Yellow Composites are good
Sunflower (Helianthus spp.)
Blanket flower (Gaillardia spp.)
Coneflower (Echinacea spp.)
And also Beebalm (Monarda spp.)
The previously mentioned Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.)
Mist flowers (Eupatorium spp.)
Sages (Salvia spp.)
And I would go for
Fall Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium)