Considerations for Planting Native Seed for Wildlife on Rights-of-Way

By Doug Jobes
Coastal Prairies Native Seed Project Assistant
Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Originally appeared in the November 2018 edition of the Round Top Register –Ed.

Many Texas landowners face energy rights-of-way on their property or an easement of some kind.  In many cases landowners may be able to plant these disturbed areas with wildlife and pollinator-friendly plants. Native plants are beneficial to a host of wildlife and pollinator species, and while native seeds are readily available, there are several things that landowners should consider before purchasing. The Texas Native Seeds Program is a part of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. The statewide effort is working to improve native seed availability and provide guidance on native habitat restoration. The program’s goal is to ensure landowners interested in restoring native habitat understand the fundamental elements of the seed purchase.

native plants for wildlife

What natives should you choose 

Most landowners interested in planting natives already understand the importance of native plants for wildlife, however, many lack confidence in knowing what species to purchase for their project.  This can become problematic when attempting to buy or specify native seed mixes because many don’t realize or even know what species exist in their area. One easy way to determine what plant species would occur locally is to ask a Texas Native Seed staff member.

Be an informed consumer

Not all commercially available seed is equal, and those buying native seed should be aware of this.  Relying on second-hand information or other uniformed advice has led to lackluster results on many Texas properties.

The most expensive options often are advertised as “wild harvest,” and while this may sound appealing,  products labeled as “Texas native” or “wild harvest” should be closely examined for quality assurance. Products containing variety names listed as “native” or “VNS,” which stands for variety not specified, should prompt consumers to ask more questions or reconsider the purchase all together.  To gain more confidence in a quality purchase request a copy of the seed report analysis for each species in a mix. Information such as variety name, germination, viability, purity and other weed seed will help determine the quality of the potential purchase.

Understanding the need for regionally adapted species in restoration and reclamation plantings is a fundamental reason that Texas Native Seeds Program was initiated.  This statewide program collects, evaluates and commercializes native species that are well suited for soil and climate conditions within the ecoregions of Texas. To date, about 40 releases have been developed by TNS, most of which are adapted to South Texas and adjacent regions.  Recently, the statewide program is working towards releases within other regions, and several suitable seed options are available for most parts of the state.

If you have questions or need assistance please email Coastal Prairies Native Seed Project- Assistant Director Doug Jobes [email protected], or visit the TNS website at