Texas Natives – October, 2007
While there are many pretty, yellow, daisy-like flowering plants to choose from, Texas green-eyes (Berlandiera x betonicifolia) is one of the best. In addition to having a rather romantic common name, Texas green-eyes is an herbaceous, upright perennial found throughout Texas and the surrounding states.
Preferring dry, sandy locales, Texas green-eyes adapts to any well-drained soil site in full sun to part shade or dappled shade. Golden-yellow 2-inch flowerheads appear atop 2- to 4-foot-tall plants. At the centers of the blooms, dark red to maroon disk flowers form above green bracts, giving rise to the common name green-eyes. When the maroon disk flowers are present, they emit a delicate chocolate and honey fragrance. The fragrance is especially noticeable on humid days. The leaves and stems are covered in soft, fuzzy hairs.
Plants set flowers and seeds continuously from late spring until late fall. The blooms are occasionally visited by small butterflies like skippers and hairstreaks. While plants are drought-tolerant, they look their best with some light pruning and supplemental irrigation during the hottest summer months.
An excellent choice for a dry garden landscape interplanted with ornamental grasses or in container culture, seed is easily collected and germinated throughout the growing season. Mature plants develop a tap root and are difficult to transplant once established. In North Texas, plants will freeze back in winter to a low, green mound of foliage, thus providing a perennial groundcover.
Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park has Texas green-eyes in several garden locations, thanks to a donation of seed from a greenhouse volunteer. It is one of the native perennials offered during the annual TDG Butterfly Plant Sale each June and sells out quickly. Texas green-eyes is an uncommon, long-lived green-eyed beauty sure to attract admirers.
About the author: Tina Dombrowski is the Director of Horticulture at Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park, Dallas. She has a particular interest in Texas native plants, butterflies, pollinating insects and their interconnected histories. Visit www.texasdiscoverygardens.org for more.