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UH Coastal Center

Home of the Texas Institute for Coastal Prairie Research and Education

Plant Propagation Program

Since the Texas Institute for Coastal Prairie Research and Education was established at UH Coastal Center in 2017, its on-the-ground restoration mission has focused on the removal of invasive species to expand restored acreage and improve management. UHCC’s external restoration activities have focused on providing a local source of ecotype-appropriate native seed to other entities restoring coastal prairie.

View photos of the seed harvesting process.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Texas Nature Conservancy, the TNC harvested over 1,500 pounds of seed from UHCC’s central Aumann Prairie in Fall 2023 under a seed-sharing arrangement. Part of the seed has already been planted to restore portions of the Texas City Prairie Preserve.

Large Planned Greenhouse

With initial support from Green Mountain Energy Sun Club, UHCC will purchase and construct a 30 x 48-foot greenhouse that will enable UHCC to better restore degraded prairie areas on site and improve restoration outreach through research and seed grow-out. While the majority of the grant from Green Mountain Energy Sun Club is specifically for construction of the major greenhouse (see Planned Facilities), a portion of the grant is dedicated to plant propagation operations.

Germination and Seedlings Program - The Germination Greenhouse

In January 2024, UHCC initiated in-house plant propagation of coastal prairie species on a smaller scale by constructing a 6 x 10-foot greenhouse suitable for seed germination and seedlings.

View photos of the greenhouse under construction and in use.

Financial support from Green Mountain Energy Sun Club allowed the initiation of the in-house plant propagation program in the new germination greenhouse. This first, small greenhouse is a bridge that allows UHCC to expand its restoration outreach while arrangements are completed to construct the larger 30 x 48-foot facility.

With the assistance of the Texas Master Naturalists as the primary labor crew, volunteers assembled the polycarbonate-paneled greenhouse with aluminum framing from a boxed greenhouse kit. The greenhouse is screwed into 4 x 6 treated lumber that is anchored to the ground with 18-inch rebar.

Final steps were construction of custom-fit tables - built by volunteers and installation of irrigation piping and a solar-powered irrigation controller.

Thanks to an ALL-volunteer effort, UHCC’s little germination greenhouse is already filled to bursting with seedlings and flats of germinating seeds.

What is Currently Growing?

Initial emphasis is on native milkweed, specifically the Asclepias viridis, A. perennis, and A. tuberosa species. Milkweed was chosen based upon the immediacy of need to support the dietary requirements of the declining migrating monarch butterfly population.

However, some additional seedlings of native grasses and forbs are also being grown for the UHCC’s cooperative work with the Houston Monarch Story project that will install native milkweed and other appropriate plants on Buffalo Bayou to enhance bayou habitat for the iconic monarch butterfly and other pollinators.