Attract Wildlife With Native Southwest Plants

Texas nature center Quinta Mazatlan grows a variety of flowers and plants for hungry wildlife. Let its gardens inspire yours.

Photo By: Courtesy of Quinta Mazatlan

Photo By: Courtesy of Quinta Mazatlan

Photo By: Courtesy of Quinta Mazatlan

Photo By: Courtesy of Quinta Mazatlan/John Brush

Photo By: Courtesy of Quinta Mazatlan/John Brush

Photo By: Courtesy of Quinta Mazatlan

Photo By: Courtesy of Quinta Mazatlan

Photo By: Courtesy of Quinta Mazatlan

Photo By: Courtesy of Quinta Mazatlan

Photo By: Courtesy of Quinta Mazatlan

Photo By: Courtesy of Quinta Mazatlan

Photo By: Courtesy of Quinta Mazatlan/photographer Jaime Villarreal, McAllen, TX

Photo By: Courtesy of Quinta Mazatlan

Crucita

Also known as mistflower, fragrant crucita (Chromolaena odorata) is native to Texas. This butterfly favorite has a sprawling growth habit and can reach 5 feet tall. 

Guayacan Flower

Purple-violet guayacan flowers lure nectar bees and butterflies. Later, orange fruits appear and attract small mammals and birds. This leafy shrub also offers nesting sites for wildlife.

Cavity Nester

Because many birds nest in cavities, the gardeners at Quinta Mazatlan sometimes leave dead branches or trees in place. Dead palms are especially attractive to green parakeets like this one.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed thrashers feed on insects, berries and fruits at Quinta Mazatlan. These birds with red eyes sometimes build their nests in cacti or other thorny plants.

Green Jay

Green jays are the official birds of McAllen, Texas, where Quinta Mazatlan is located. These relatives of crows make their homes in the dense, scrub-like vegetation — called a thornforest — of the Rio Grande Valley.

Yellow Buttercups

Buttercups are Texas wildflowers often visited by bees, butterflies and birds. They're drought-tolerant, making them a good choice for xeriscaping.

Baby Owl

The gardens at Quinta Mazatlan are home to barn owls, great horned owls and eastern screech owls. Great horned owls make nests of large sticks, while Eastern screech owls use natural cavities, like old woodpecker holes in the surrounding palm trees.

Blue Sage

Butterflies and hummingbirds will visit the azure-colored blooms of blue sage. These tall plants like full sun and flower in late summer.

Turk's Cap

Turk's cap, a native shrub in Texas and Mexico, is a member of the hibiscus family. Hummingbirds, moths and butterflies visit its flowers.

Pride of Barbados

A member of the pea family, pride of Barbados is also known as peacock flower, dwarf poinciana and red bird-of-paradise. Hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11, its orange and red blooms attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Prickly Pear

Purple prickly pear fruits are eaten by birds, small mammals and even people. They're the official state plant of Texas and one of 24 cacti species grown at Quinta Mazatlan.

Wild Olive

Wild olives, which grow as shrubs or small trees, are native to the Rio Grande Plains of south Texas. They bear white, trumpet-shaped flowers and bluish-purple fruits that are eaten by many birds and other wildlife.

Pigeonberry

Many birds feast on the scarlet fruits of pigeonberry, a perennial herb. It's especially attractive when its pale pink flowers open alongside the berries.