On May 1, 1718, San Antonio de Valero Mission was founded, at the same time, the Spaniards built the fort they called Presidio of San Antonio de Béxar. They also established the settlement that would become what is known as the city of San Antonio. The settlement was designed as a rest stop on the trip to East Texas missions from the Rio Grande area. Missionaries would go on to play a pivotal role in the establishment of settlements throughout Spain's territories in North America. Fray Antonio de Olivares was the Franciscan missionary who led the effort to begin San Antonio de Valero Mission, later to become famous under the name the Alamo.
Climate and native plants
If you are a resident of San Antonio, you know San Antonio's climate includes hot and humid summers that are quite lengthy. Winters are mild to cool, with warm and wet spring and fall seasons. The brutal hot and humid summers make fall the ideal time to get those native plants in the ground, according to local horticulturalists.
Fall is for planting native vegetation.
Plants that are native to the San Antonio area have had to adjust to the hot and dry summer conditions in several ways. First, they may germinate their seeds in the fall, or secondly, they extend their roots during the winter. Since winters are typically moderate here, this makes perfect sense. This development of a root system that is substantial and deep during the season of dormancy helps native plants better survive the withering summer heat and lack of moisture.
You might be wondering how the roots are growing when it is supposed to be the dormant season. The answer is that because of the relatively mild temperatures. The soil does not freeze in the winter as it does in colder climates allowing for a slow rate of growth from fall through to the early part of spring. The resulting formidable root systems equate to higher survivability and the probability of continued growth. These factors together make fall ideal for planting your San Antonio garden.
Examples of trees, shrubs, and flowers to plant in the fall
Here is a "top ten" list of what to plant in the fall in San Antonio:
- Monterrey, or Mexican white oak (Quercus polymorpha), is a nearly evergreen tree that can be found growing in the mountains near Monterrey and Saltillo, along with Val Verde County. Some of the characteristics of the Mexican white oak are that it grows rapidly and is resistant to oak wilt. Oak wilt is a fungal disease that can result in the death of the tree.
- Montezuma cypress (Cupressus mucronatum) can be found natively in Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley. When compared to the bald cypress, it grows faster and resists droughts better. An example of a Montezuma cypress is the Arbol del Tule, which ranks among the world's largest trees.
- The Mexican sycamore (Platanus mexicana) is native to central and northeastern Mexico. This deciduous tree tends to show rapid growth and is recognized by the white fuzz beneath its leaves. This fuzz has a purpose, acting as a preventative for the damage that sucking insects can cause. When shopping for a Mexican sycamore at your local nursery, early fall is the best time to find them.
- Wild or Mexican olive (Cordia boissieri), can be found in the vicinity of Nueces County and into Northern Mexico. Not actually an olive, it produces a fruit that is like an olive and is eaten by many different mammals and birds. The wild olive is resplendent with white flowers in the summer, but will sometimes freeze back in the San Antonio area in winter. Additionally, it will not grow in the Hill Country.
- The Esperanza (Tecoma stans) is a shrub well known in San Antonio for its rapid growth and bright yellow color. It is found natively in West Texas and Northern Mexico. Gold Star is the favorite variety of Esperanza, which can be potted or planted in the ground. If not cut back to three inches by the first week of March, the rest of the year you will deal with dead stems.
- Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) hails from northern Mexico and south Texas. There is an ongoing debate as to whether its purple flowers result from or predict the coming of rain. You can choose from four beautiful species of Cenizo: common, fragrant, Lynn Lowery Legacy or Green Cloud.
- Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana) is a practically fool-proof shrub. You can see them growing in parking lot cracks. Probably the best way to destroy them is to give them too much care. An evergreen, Damianita is an excellent addition to your butterfly or hummingbird garden and is deer resistant.
- Four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa), or hymenoxys, is a robust perennial with yellow blooms. It flourishes in dry, rocky soil but also can survive in different conditions. Two more benefits are to attract butterflies or to ward off deer.
- Speaking of butterflies, Gregg's mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) is a veritable magnet for the winged creatures. A must have for any aspiring butterfly garden is one of the four available choices: Gregg's, blue, white and fragrant.
- Gregg's salvia (Salvia greggii), also referred to as autumn sage or cherry sage, is the most commonly found of the Salvias in the San Antonio area. In addition to being appreciated by humans, hummingbirds and butterflies are drawn to Gregg's salvia. Available choices include white, pink, red, cherry, raspberry, purple and two-toned flowers. While it does best in full sun, a bit of shade is also fine for Gregg's salvia.
Who has time for all this?
No doubt you can use some help with the planting and maintenance of that beautiful San Antonio garden. Save precious time by using Lawn Love's lawn services, and enjoy living in the land of the River Walk and the Alamo.