Natives Nursery Expansion Project

Background

After a decade of growing native plants for Houston Audubon’s coastal sanctuaries, it became apparent other environmental organizations and individuals were also looking for native plant material for their open lands, schools, parks, homes, and habitat reconstruction projects. Houston Audubon’s Natives Nursery fit a regional need. The nursery only grows plants found on the Upper Texas Coast, no hybrids or cultivars shipped from other countries or other parts of Texas. For several years, the nursery grew in small increments. Recently, however, the demand for pollinator plants that provide nectar and food for caterpillars grew quickly when it became well-known Monarch butterflies populations were in steep decline.  National and local organizations stepped-up to address the problem with both programming and funding to restore habitat with the native pollinator plants Monarchs need for nectar and food during migration.


Objectives

Houston Audubon received funding to enhance its Natives Nursery through a cooperative grant for the Gulf-Houston Monarch Flyway Strategy Project and through a grant from The Meadows Foundation. The nursery enhancement goal was to increase the number of native plants in the ground and ultimately create more bird and wildlife habitat across Greater Houston as part of HAS’ Bird-Friendly Communities outreach program Native Plants for Houston. The project goals include improved appearance, improved functionality and efficiency, improved safety, greater opportunities for workshops and visitor services, greater plant output, a higher diversity of plants offered and healthier plants through improved irrigation.


The Work

The Natives Nursery Crew, BP Energy Company, Boy Scout Troop #599 and the 4th Saturday Workday volunteers moved over 3500 plants in and out of the nursery for two separate phases of the nursery enhancement project. The first phase included clearing and leveling the site, installing a drainage system and a new water meter. Phase 2 began on a very rainy spring day, when unbelievably good-natured BP volunteers and Nursery Crew heroes once again moved the plants out of the nursery to make room for 31 new growing benches.


Partners

Cheers to everyone who worked so long and hard to make this project happen. Partners include The Meadows Foundation, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Houston Wilderness, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Katy Prairie Conservancy, Coastal Prairie Partnership, Trees for Houston, and many others who contributed their time and funds towards the Gulf-Houston Monarch Flyway Strategy project.

Flo Hannah
Conservation Specialist
Summer 2017

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New growing benches, leveled surface, and a larger nursery overall mean more bird-friendly plants!

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The Nursery Volunteer Crew was instrumental to the expansion project.

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Native milkweed supports the Monarch Butterfly, a species in decline.