Pollinator Options & Deer Resistant Plants For Central Texas

Popular Pollinators & Their Blooming Times

This list runs through popular plants that act a a host for our pollinator friends like bees and butterflies. If you have a question about a specific plant that is not found on this list, feel free to ask a Garden Seventeen team member!


Early Spring
These early spring bloomers are an important food source for our native bees.

  • Anacacho Orchid Tree (12’ tall, Understory Tree)
    • Well drained soil
    • Drought resistant
    • Deciduous, fragrant flowers attract pollinators in spring
    • Deer Resistant
  • Columbine (2’ Tall, Part Shade)
    • Well draining soil
    • Dormant in summer without water
    • Hummingbird attractant
  • Mexican Buckeye (15’ tall, Understory Shrubby Tree)
    • Rocky soils, adaptable to clay, loam
    • Deciduous, nectar and host plant
    • Deer Resistant
  • Mexican Plum (15-20’, Gentle sun to light shade)
    • Well drained soil, adaptable to clay loam
    • Deciduous, Small edible plums  
    • Bumble bees love the fruit trees
  • Mountain Laurel (12’ Tall, Full sun to part shade)
    • Limestone hills, adaptable to clay
    • Evergreen, Poisonous seeds
    • Deer Resistant
    • Slow growing tree, try not to prune much or transplant
  • Texas Redbud (Up to 20’, Sun to Part shade)
    • Well draining, adaptable soil
    • Deciduous
    • Deer resistant

Mid-Spring

  • Cherry Laurel (15-30’ Tall, Sun to Part Shade)
    • Very Adaptable to any soil
    • Evergreen, flowers in spring, berries eaten by birds
    • Deer resistant
    • Not for arid locations
  • Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (15’-25’ Tall, Sun-Part Shade)
    • Well-Draining loam to clay soil
    • Deciduous, flowers in spring, berries favored by birds
    • Deer resistant
    • Great fall color, don’t overwater
  • Roughleaf Dogwood (15’-25’ Tall- Understory Tree, Part Shade)
    • Moist Stream Bank soil preferable
    • Deciduous, birds eat white fruit clusters
    • Needs Water
  • Skullcap, Heartleaf (2’ Tall, Full Shade Perennial)
    • Drought tolerant, may go dormant in summer
    • Spreads easily, butterfly attractant
    • Deer Resistant
  • Sweet Almond Verbena (8’ Tall, Sun to Part Shade)
    • Well draining soil
    • Deciduous, blooms on and off all summer
    • Attracts hummingbirds and pollinators

Late Spring – Summer

  • Beebalm (5’ Tall, Sun to Part Shade Perennial)
    • Will grow in variety of soils, needs moderate watering
    • Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds
    • Deer Resistant
  • Butterfly Bush, Wooly (4-6’ Tall, Native Shrub)
    • Well draining soil, winter hardy
    • Semi-Deciduous, Attracts Butterflies
    • Deer Resistant
  • Butterfly Weed, Mexican (Tropical Milkweed) (2’ Tall, Sun to Part Shade Perennial)
    • Will grow in variety of soils, needs moderate watering
    • Essential to Monarch Butterfly survival
    • Deer Resistant
  • Carolina Buckthorn (12’-15’ Tall, Understory but some sun needed for flowers)
    • Well draining, moist stream banks
    • Deciduous, birds love the berries
    • Great wildlife plant
  • Duranta (5’-10’ Tall, Sun to Part Shade)
    • Needs well draining soil
    • Striking purple/white flowers
    • Low-moderate watering, bees like this plant
  • Lantana (Height Varies, Full Sun)
    • Needs well draining soil, can be cold tender
    • Variety in color, butterflies love this plant
    • Deer Resistant
  • Rosemary (Height Varies, Full Sun Semi-Evergreen)
    • Good drainage required, does not like to be overwatered
    • Will produce blue/purple flowers that pollinators love
    • Deer Resistant
  • Thryallis (4’-6’ Tall, Full Sun)
    • Tolerates most soils, semi-evergreen
    • Bee and butterfly attractant
    • Deer resistant
  • Turks Cap (6’ Tall, Sun to Shade)
    • Will grow in variety of soils, drought tolerant
    • Red or Pink flowers, Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies
    • Deer Resistant
  • Yarrow (1’ Tall, Full Sun to Part Shade Semi-Evergreen)
    • Butterflies like the nectar
    • Larval host for Painted Lady Butterfly
    • Deer Resistant
  • Verbena (18” Tall, Full Sun Perennial)
    • Needs good drainage
    • Butterfly attractant
    • Deer Resistant

Summer – Fall

  • Desert Willow (15’-40’ Tall, Full Sun Native Shrub)
    • Well draining limestone soil preferred
    • Deciduous, attracts hummingbirds and bumblebees
    • Not a true Willow, related to a trumpet vine and yellow bells
    • Deer Resistant
  • Firebush (5’ Tall, Full Sun)
    • Will grow in variety of soils, needs protection in winter
    • Moderate watering, Orange/Red flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies
  • Flame Acanthus (4’ Tall, Sun to Part Shade Native Shrub)
    • Native shrub, orange flowers,
    • Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies
    • Very drought tolerant, deer Resistant
  • Kidneywood (3’-10’ Tall, Full sun Native Shrub)
    • Dry, well draining soil
    • Deciduous, deer resistant, blooms May – October
    • Great for bees: leaves have a citrus scent
  • Sumac, Flameleaf (15’ Tall, Sun to Part Shade Native Shrub)
    • Well draining, Native to limestone soils
    • Deciduous, food for bees, red foliage in fall, no pruning necessary
    • Deer Resistant

After all your hard work in the fall, let your garden and landscape rest.  To provide pollinators a habitat, don’t clean up too early.  Native bees sleep in hollow stalks of perennials. No raking or scraping during the winter.  All the above provides a microclimate for your perennial roots as well.  Wait to do trimming and cleaning until around Valentine’s Day, when the weather begins to break.  


Groundcovers

  • Frogfruit (evergreen, sun or shade native ground cover)
    • Grows in any soil
    • Tiny white flowers May-October
    • Deer Resistant
  • Horseherb/Straggler Daisy (sun or shade native ground cover)
    • Grows in any soil
    • Tiny sunflowers, yellow, spring through fall
    • Deer Resistant

Salvias

  • Lyre Leaf Sage (2’ Tall, Sun to Part Shade Perennial)
    • Great for dry shade areas, but can be in full sun
    • Reseeds easily, attracts birds, bees, and butterflies
  • Mealy Blue Sage (Henry Duelberg), (Full sun Perennial)
    • Well draining soil, prefers good garden soil
    • Blue flowers, blooms May-October, Deer Resistant
    • Bees love this Salvia
  • Tropical Sage (Full-shade Perennial)
    • Well draining, rich soil, deer resistant
    • Comes in red, pink, or white flowers, blooms spring through fall
    • Attracts hummingbirds

Mallows
While many native bees are generalists like honeybees and enjoy lots of different nectar and pollen sources, some are specialists and need plants from a certain family.  Mallow bees visit the following garden plants:

  • Winecup (Sun to part shade Perennial)
    • Well draining soil, but adaptable
    • Purple flowers, February-July, mild deer resistance
    • Butterfly host plant
  • Rockrose (Sun to shade Perennial)
    • Well draining soil, adaptable
    • Hibiscus like, pink flowers from spring to fall
    • Deer Resistance
  • Purple Coneflower (Sun-part shade Perennial)
    • Well-draining soil, good garden soil
    • Big pink flowers, spring to fall, Deer Resistant
    • Good perch for large butterflies, seeds for small birds
  • Fragrant Mistflower (Semi-evergreen to Deciduous, part shade to shade)
    • Well draining soil, good garden soil
    • Clusters of small white blooms, Oct-Nov, Deer Resistant
    • Important late nectar source for migrating butterflies and overwintering bees; seeds for small birds in fall and winter

ASTERS
All Asters are great pollinator food sources!

  • Fall Aster (Full sun Perennial)
    • Well draining soil, adaptable
    • Purple flowers, Sept-Nov, Deer Resistant
    • *Critical nectar and pollen resource for overwintering bees and migrating monarchs; seeds for small birds in fall and winter*

VINES

  • Mexican Flame Vine (10’+ Tall, Full Sun to Part Shade Perennial)
    • Not aggressive, but great for covering chainlink fence
    • Attracts bees, butterflies, and birds from spring to fall.
  • Passion Vine (15’+ Tall, Full Sun to Part Shade Semi-Evergreen)
    • Native to Texas,Aggressive growth
    • Food for several species of butterfly larvae, Deer Resistant
  • Texas Wisteria (25’+ Tall, Full Sun to Part Shade Perennial)
    • Needs some acidifying and moderate watering
    • High heat tolerance, 
    • Flowers bloom in spring, attract several insect varieties

TREES
Trees and large shrubs are great nectar and pollen sources because there are so many flowers in one place.

  • Burr Oak. (50-70’ tall and wide)
  • Chinkapin Oak  (50-70’ tall; 30-40’ wide)
  • Texas Ash. (40-50’ tall and wide)
  • BigTooth Maple (20-50’ tall; 20-30’ wide)

OTHER POLLINATOR INFORMATION

Letting Basils, Broccoli, and many other herbs and veggies go to flower are great pollinator options.

Another reason not to use Round-Up (Glycosphate): bees love your weeds! Clover and Dandelion flowers are some of their favorites!

There are some great Annual flowers that also bring the bees as well. Pentas, Portulacas, Dew Plant, and Hibiscus are just a few!

For specific questions speak with a Garden Seventeen team member today!

Deer create quite a challenge in gardens around the Austin area. We have compiled a list of deer resistant plants to help add variety to your landscape. Please remember: NO PLANT IS DEER PROOF! When deer are hungry enough, they will eat most anything (especially blooms). In early spring, deer will nibble on the new shoots and in times of drought, they will munch on anything available.

Keep in mind that deer appetites and taste preferences also vary in different areas. North Austin deer may like plants that South Austin deer shun. A good idea is to look at what your neighbors are (or aren’t) having success growing.

When reading the lists, the bold varieties are time tested and well-known to be deer resistant. Please take note: when planting deer resistant plants, be aware the deer will likely take a taste of them and possibly toss the new plant around.  The plant is new in their territory, so they are checking it out. Until the plants get established, Garden Seventeen recommends to use I Must Garden Deer Repellent Spray or granules on and around the plants for monthly protection. Heres a link to some deer netting as well!


Deer Resistant Plants For Your Landscaping

It is important to note that deer will munch on just about anything! These plants listed below are plants that have proven to be deer resistant, not deer proof.


LARGE TREES

To keep deer from nibbling on new growth, and the bucks from rubbing the velvet from their antlers, place a cage 5 1/2’ tall around the trunk of the tree.

Cedar, Eastern ElmPalm, Mediterranean Fan
Cypress, All VarietiesPalm, Pindo
Palm, Sago
Honey MesquitePistache Trees, All
Live OakSoap Berry
MagnoliaSycamore, American

SMALL TREES or LARGE SHRUBS

These may need a cage around them as well, especially when first planted.

Anacacho Orchid TreeKidneywood
Buckeye, MexicanMountain Laurel, Texas
Desert WillowRedbud, Mexican
Eve’s NecklaceRetama, Jerusalem Thorn
Holly, PossumhawSmoke Tree, American
Holly, YauponSumac, All varieties
Junipers, AllViburnum, All varieties

SHRUBS

AbeliaHolly, Dwarf Yaupon
AcubaJapanese Arealia
AgaritaJapanese Yew
Agaves, All VarietiesJasmine, Primrose
Barbarry, All VarietiesLorapetalum
Boxleaf EuonymusMock Orange
Boxwood & Japanese BoxwoodNandina
Butterfly Bush, WoolyOleander
Century PlantPalmetto, Texas Dwarf
CoralberryPineapple Guava
Cotoneaster, AllPrickly Pear
ElaeagnusPyracantha
Flame AcanthusRosemary, Upright
Flame MimosaSenna, Flowering
GardeniaSotol
GermanderSumac, Fragrant
GoldcupYucca, All Varieties
Holly, Burford

GROUNDCOVERS

Ajuga (Carpet Bugle)Frog Fruit
Asiatic JasmineHorseherb
Aztec GrassMonkey Grass
Creeping FigVinca Major

VINES

Carolina JessamineStar Jasmine
CrossvineTrumpet Vine
Honeysuckle, CoralVirginia Creeper
Passion Vine

ORNAMENTAL GRASSES

Big BluestemMexican Feather Grass
Gulf MuhleyPampas Grass
Inland Sea OatsPurple Fountain Grass
Little BluestemSideoats Gramma
Lindheimer’s MühleSwitchgrass
Maiden Grass

HERBS

BasilLemon Verbena
BeebalmMargoram
BergamotOregano, Cuban esp.
BorageParsley
CalendulaSavory
DillSpearmint
Fennel, BronzeSweet Bay
HyssopSpearmint
LemongrassThyme

PERENNIALS

AgastacheFalse IndigoMexican Oregano
AmaryllisFall AsterMilkweed, All varieties
Angel TrumpetFirecracker FernNolina
Asparagus FernFlax LilyObedient Plant
ArtemisiaFour-Nerve DaisyOxeye Daisy
Autumn SageFoxglovePenstemon
BeautyberryFoxtail FernPhlox
Black-eyed SusanGauraPink Evening Primrose
Blackfoot DaisyGoldenrodPigeonberry
Butterfly BushGoldmoss SedumPurple Coneflower
Butterfly WeedGray SantolinaRock Rose
Bearded IrisGreen SantolinaRussian Sage
Bird of ParadiseGregg’s DaleaSkeleton Leaf Goldeneye
BluebonnetGreggs MistflowerSkullcap
Blue Shade RuelliaHens and ChicksLarkspur (Delphinium)
Blue PlumbagoHolly FernSociety Garlic
CandytuftHummingbird BushSotol
Cardinal FlowerIndian BlanketSpind Prickly Pear
CatmintIndigo Spires SalviaSplit Leaf Philodendron
Cast Iron PlantJerusalem SageSword Fern
Cedar SageLamb’s EarTexas Betony
Cigar PlantLantanaThryallis
ChrysanthemumLily of the NileTurks Cap
CoreopsisPerennial HibiscusWood Fern
Copper Canyon DaisyMajestic SageWormwood
Dahlberg DaisyMealy Blue SageVerbena
DamianitaMexican Bush SageYarrow
Engelmanns SageMexican Mint MarigoldRed Yucca
EsperanzaMexican HatZexmenia
Euryops DaisyMexican Honeysuckle

ANNUALS

African DaisyGlobe Amaranth
AgeratumHeliotrope
AlyssumHollyhock
Annual SageIndian Blanket (Gaillardia)
Bachelors ButtonsMarigolds
BegoniaNastursium
Calla LilyNight Blooming Jasmine
Castor BeanOrnamental Peppers
CelosiaPentas
ColeusPersian Shield
CordylinePoppies
CosmosPotato Vine
CyclamenSambec Jasmine
DaturaScented Geraniums
DianthusSnapdragons
Dusty MillerSpider Flower (Cleome)
Elephant EarStrawflower
Fan Flower (Scaevola)Sunflower
Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana)Vinca (Periwinkles)
Gerbera DaisyZinnias