Native And Adapted Plants For The Austin Area

Native  and native-adapted* plants add beauty to the landscape and preserve our natural heritage, helping us keep that “Austin-Feel” in our landscaping.  Native plants also provide food and habitat for native wildlife.  By staying green longer, native plants can help slow the spread of wildfire and keep the landscape healthy.  Another benefit of using native plants is that, once established, they require little long term maintenance and simply add to the beauty of your landscaping.

*A native-adapted plant isn’t native to a particular geological area, but thrives in the ecological and climatic conditions of that area without being harmful (i.e. is not invasive).

Below is a list that includes trees and shrubs native and native-adapted to Austin. The list includes some of the benefits of each plant and the growing conditions needed for optimal growth.

Most common native trees in Austin landscape

  • Live oaks – likes large open spaces to grow, briefly drops leaves in spring time. Susceptible to oak wilt
  • red oaks- well adapted to rocky soil susceptible to oak wilt as well
  • Cedar elms- tend to grow to an upright form and have adapted to rocky soils can grow in poor drainage areas and clay areas as well. Susceptible to powdery mildew
  • Native small trees / large shrubs
  • Crape myrtle- trees need good airflow. There are many varieties that grow to all different sizes. Flower a variety of colors depending on species.
  • Cherry laurel- great for privacy when planted close, needs deep soil and good drainage
  • yaupon holly- Small shade tolerant tree, free of insects and diseases, poisonous but deer resistant
  • Desert willow- needs well drained soil, deer resistant
  • Mountain laurel- Slow grower but blooms purple flowers with a sweet fragrance, needs good drainage, seeds are poisonous but tree is deer resistant
  • Wax Myrtle- fast grower great for natural privacy screening, prefers deeper soils, deer resistant

 Shrubs Native To Austin

  • Abelia- fast grower great for producing dense hedges, fragrant flowers
  • American beauty berry- native. berries in fall and winter, shade tolerant, prefers dependable moisture
  • Butterfly bush- attract butterflies sun/ part shade
  • Wooly butterfly bush- native.attracts butterflies deer resistant
  • Bottle brush- drought tolerant pest and disease resistant, many varieties available.
  • Elaeagnus- medium fast grower prefers well drained soil. Deer resistant.
  • Indian hawthorne- dont over water, usually dont require a lot of pruning
  • Flame acanthus-native.attracts hummingbirds and butterflies reseeds aggressively
  • Dwarf Burford holly- thrives in a wide range of soils, deer resistant
  • Knockout rose- repeat bloomer
  • upright rosemary- herb, deer resistant, trailing variety makes decent ground cover
  • Turks cap- native. Fruit for wildlife, spreads aggressively attracts hummingbirds and butterflies

Native Perennials

  • Bulbine- aloe like leaves cold tender deer resitant
  • Artemesia- low water use and low maintenance deer resistant
  • Cast iron plant- requires shade slow growing deer resistant
  • Chile pequin- red peppers are hot birds love the fruit deer resistant
  • Black foot daisy- short daisy like blooms all spring and summer, excellent rock garden plant deer resistant
  • Copper canyon daisy- daisy like flower, very strong scent deer resistant
  • Fall Aster- Profuse fall bloomer
  • Esperanza- showy blooms. Native. Deer resistant
  • Firebush- Attracts humming birds, needs constant moisture might die in cold weather
  • Indigo spires- allow room to mound deer resistant.
  • Bearded iris- spreads slowly, needs well drained soil deer resistant
  • Bicolor iris- forms clumps of iris like foliage deer resistant
  • Lambs ear- tolerates dry soil, used for foliage not flowers. Can get damaged by over head watering deer resistant
  • Lantana- deer resistant and drought tolerant. Many species including trailing
  • Pride of barbados- showy flowers for hot weather , may die in winter deer resistant
  • Plumbago- does best with morning sun and evening shade attracts humming birds deer resistant
  • Rock rose- very few blooms after spring, reseeds freely attracts butterflies deer resistant
  • Cherry sage- hummingbirds love them many varieties available deer resistant
  • Dwarf ruellia- reseeds aggressively deer resistant
  • Mexican bush sage- silver green foliage with purple blooms deer resistant
  • pink skullcap- low growing mounding plant deer resistant
  • Society Garlic- deer eat blooms not plants, bruised leaves smell like onion deer resistant
  • Verbena- low growing ground cover deer resistant


  • Twistleaf yucca- deer eat blooms but not foliage, old leaves are twisted
  • Red yucca- deer will eat blooms but not foliage, attracts humming birds
  • soft leaf yucca- soft pliable foliage, deer eat blooms but not foliage

Texas Grasses

  • Dwarf Fountain grass- can be aggressive, needs moisture during dry time
  • Purple fountain grass- purple in color grows larger than regular fountain grass
  • Mexican feather grass- soft feathery seed head, drought tolerant reseeds deer resistant
  • Big muhly- clumping blue green grass deer resistant
  • Gulf muhly- wispy seed heads make great fall color deer resistant
  • Bamboo muhly- silver green lance like foliage deer resistant

 Ground Cover

  • Aztec grass- variegated leaves no pests or disease
  • Asian Jasmine- will climb trees,s uppresses weeds, can be invasive
  • Liriope- clump-like evergreen foliage
  • leadwart plumbago- deep blue flowers and green foliage deer resistant

Click here for information on tree maintenance.