15 Great Native Plants for Southwestern Gardens

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Add low-maintenance beauty to your yard with these tough Southwestern plants.

Autumn Sage

Salvias are tough to beat just about everywhere. Autumn sage is an especially fine species that bears evergreen foliage and clusters of red, purple, pink, or violet flowers from late summer through autumn. Like most salvias, this is a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds.

Name: Salvia greggii

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 2 feet tall

Zones: 7-9

Yellow Columbine

Among the most graceful Desert Southwest plants, yellow columbine is vigorous, heat-tolerant, and a lot tougher than it looks. The yellow flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies and bloom almost continually if frequently deadheaded.

Name: Aquilegia chrysantha

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

Wine Cups

An extremely tough little groundcover, wine cups bears burgundy-red flowers from late spring to midsummer. Even when not in bloom, we love its low-growing, attractively divided foliage.

Name: Callirhoe involucrata

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained

Size: To 1 foot tall

Zones: 4-8

Bunny Ears Cactus

An evergreen cactus that's as cute as its namesake, bunny ears cactus rarely produces spines. Its bright yellow flowers appear in spring and summer.

Name: Opuntia microdasys

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 2 feet tall

Zones: 8-10

Texas Red Yucca

Another plant that should earn a spot in every garden, Texas red yucca offers bright red flowers in summer that attract scores of hummingbirds. As you'd expect from a Southwestern native, it's reliable and heat and drought tolerant.

Name: Hesperaloe parviflora

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 4 feet tall

Zones: 8-10

Natives are a key element to any garden. Learn how to incorporate native plants and flowers for a tough yet gorgeous landscape.

Add Natives to Your Landscape

Learn how to incorporate natives into your landscape for a cohesive, beautiful display.

Pineleaf Penstemon

A first-rate plant for attracting hummingbirds, pineleaf penstemon offers beautiful fine-textured foliage and bright orange-red flowers over a 6-week period in summer.

Name: Penstemon pinifolius

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 16 inches tall

Zones: 4-9

Spanish Bayonet

An evergreen with bold, blue-green foliage, Spanish bayonet is a year-round garden highlight. White bell-shaped flowers appear above the foliage in summer, making it even more lovely.

Name: Yucca harrimaniae

Growing Conditions: Part shade, dry soil

Size: To 4 feet tall

Zones: 5-8

Tetraneuris

A dwarf plant for the front of the border, tetranueris offers tidy mounds of blue-green foliage and beautiful daisy-shape golden-yellow flowers. It's a long bloomer, too, often flowering from spring until fall.

Name: Tetraneuris acaulis

Growing Conditions: Full sun and dry, well-drained soils

Size: To 6 inches tall

Zones: 4-8

Red Hyssop

Agastaches are good for just about every region, and red hyssop is an especially strong choice. This tough, drought-resistant perennial bears orange, red, or apricot blooms for a long period in summer. Its aromatic foliage assures deer and rabbits pass it by.

Name: Agastache rupestris

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 4 feet tall

Zones: 4-9

California Poppy

California's state flower, this longtime favorite will offers beautiful flowers in shades of orange, yellow, cream, apricot, and pink through the summer. The finely cut blue-gray foliage is wonderful, too.

Name: Eschscholzia californica

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 18 inches tall

Zones: Annual

Desert Sunflower

A long-blooming favorite with golden, daisy-shape flowers, desert sunflower blooms throughout the spring and may rebloom again in fall. When not in bloom, its attractive rabbit- and deer-resistant fuzzy gray foliage takes center stage.

Name: Geraea canescens

Growing Conditions: Full sun, well-drained soil

Size: To 3 feet tall

Zones: Annual

California Fuchsia

This beautiful evergreen perennial groundcover offers spectacular orange and red flowers in late summer. Flowers are long lasting and loved by hummingbirds and butterflies.

Name: Zauschneria californica

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 12 inches tall

Zones: 8-10

Indian Paintbrush

Bring hummingbirds into the garden with this beautiful, drought-tolerant perennial. Brilliant vermillion-red flowers appear from late spring all the way to frost. This long-blooming plant is a winner almost everywhere.

Name: Castilleja integra

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 4-7

Perennial Sunflower

Perennial sunflower is one of autumn's showiest plants. Tons of bright, golden-yellow flowers adorn tall stems and attract herds of butterflies. One of our favorite selections is pale 'Lemon Queen'.

Name: Helianthus maximiliani

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 8 feet tall

Zones: 4-9

Green-Flowered Hedgehog Cactus

A little plant with a big name, green-flowered hedgehog cactus forms tight, spiny green globes that look great in rock gardens. Watch for the iridescent green flowers in early spring.

Name: Echinocereus viridiflorus

Growing Conditions: Full sun, dry soils

Size: To 9 inches tall

Zones: 4-10

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