Shrubs for the Texas Panhandle

Nearly all require a sunny location, and most, if not all, will benefit when placed in afternoon shade. The more xeric the plants natural habitat, the less water it needs. Some of these low water-use plants will die from over care and watering. Your expertise and touch as a gardener will be a factor in your success, as always. I have tried many of these plants in my own garden or gardens I planted for others. Some of the plants I have knowledge of them growing in other people's gardens in our area. Send me your suggestions and growing conditions for plants you feel should be added to this list; I know there are yet many. Plants are listed with Botanic Latin name first, common name afterwards, if known.


Amelanchier utahensis, Utah Serviceberry, grows up to 6’ x 6’ in elevations from 4000’ – 8000’. Western native. Clusters of pink or white flowers in spring, followed by black fruits. Do not plant if planting junipers as this shrub is a host to a rust with the junipers.

 Amorpha canescens, lead plant, plains native, grows 2-4 ft. high and wide, midsummer flowers, slender spikes of small violet-purple flowers.

Amorpha nana, dwarf leadplant, compact 2' x 3' high and wide, rose pink flower spikes, prefers part shade in the afternoons; not as heat tolerant.

Amorpha fruticosa, indigo bush, false indigo bush, 4-12' tall and wide, sun to part shade, dark blue-purple flowers with orange stamens in May. Fragrant. Butterflies love it, deer do not.

Anisacanthus quadrifidus spp. Wrightii, Flame acanthus, orange-red summer to fall blooming with glossy green leaves. There was a pumpkin-orange flowered flame acanthus available from Yucca Do Nursery, but I do not know if it is still available. It flowers less robustly.

Artemisia filifolia, Sand Sage, Western native, grow on the dry side for better appearance. 3-6' tall.

Artemisia frigida, Fringed Sage. Low growing 1.5’ x 1.5’ silvery shrub grows from 3000’ – 11,000’. SW native.

Artemisia tridentata, Big Leaf Sage, 3-8' tall, usually smaller though. Planted against deep green shrubs sets it off nicely. Prune out old branches for better appearance. SW native.

Atriplex canescens, Four-wing Salt Bush, Chamiso, 1-6' x 4-8', saline, heat and drought tolerant. Treat lean. SW native.

Atriplex confertifolia, Shadscale, semi-evergreen leaves. 2 x 2', suited to the garden but grows well under extreme conditions. SW native.

Berberis thumbergii atropurpurea, barberry, sun to part shade. Low water-use.

Berberis trifoliata (Mahonia trifoliata), Agarita, Western native, evergreen and prickly, grows to 8 feet. Makes a good screen.

Buddleia davidii, butterfly bush, low to medium water-use, needs good drainage, 4' x 8', many different varieties. A butterfly magnet!

Caesalpinia gilliesii, Desert Bird of Paradise, Stunning yellow flowers with red stamens. Southern Texas to Central American native.

Caryopteris x clandonensis, blue mist spirea, blue 2-3' x 2-4', both shade and sun, summer blooming.

Cercocarpus intricatus, Little Leaf Mountain Mahogany, slow growing evergreen shrub to 9', feathery seed plumes in fall. Western native.

Cercocarpus ledifolium, Curl-leaf Mountain Mahogany, 4-5' x 4-8'. Western native.

Cercocarpus montanus, Mountain Mahogany, native to the Texas Panhandle and Western US. Very versatile of soil and conditions. 8-20 ft. tall.

Chamaebatiera millifolium, Fernbush, White flowers in summer, 6-8' x 6-8', SW native. Attractive.

Chilopsis linearis, Desert Willow, tall shrub or small tree to 20', many different varieties with different color summer blooms. Drought tolerant. Very showy.

Chrysactinia mexicana, Damianita, evergreen, yellow flowering, small compact shrub or sub-shrub.

Chrysothamus nauseosus, Chamisa, rabbit bush, 4-6' x 6' wide, yellow fall flowers, fragrant.

Chrysothamus nauseosus nauseosus, Dwarf Chamisa, 2 ft. tall, pale yellow flowers in summer.

Clematis ligusticifolia, Virgins bower, Westerns Virgins bower, native vine.

Cornus drummondii, Rough-leaf dogwood, shade to part shade location, medium water-use and amended soil. Midwest and south central US native.

Cotoneaster apiculatus, Cranberry Cotoneaster. 1 ½ ft tall x 5 ft. wide, medium water-use.

Cotoneaster divaricatus, 7' x 8 tall. Medium water-use .

Cotoneaster glaucophylla, grayleaf cotoneaster, small gray leaves, nearly evergreen with red berries in fall; low water-use. Low growing, 2-3' tall x 4-5' wide.

Cytisus purgens, Spanish Gold Hardy Broom, 4 x 6', yellow spring blooms and green stems.

Dalea formosa, feather dalea, native shrub 2' x 3', small pea-like purple flowers in spring and after rains.

Dalea frutescens ‘Sierra Negra’, Black Dalea 3' x 4' , small pea-like purple flowers in fall.

Dasylirion wheeleri, Desert spoon, Sotol, native to West Texas to Arizona. Xeric but does better with supplemental water in summer. Summer white flowers on tall spike. Thin evergreen leaves, bluish green.

Eleagnus (pungens?)fruitlandi, eleagnus, 6-9' sun or shade, evergreen.

Ephedra antisyphilitica, and other species, Mormon's Tea, green leafless stems, xeric, 4' x 3'. Unusual speciman shrub.

Ericameria laricifolia 'Aguirre', Turpentine Shrub, autumn blooming with golden yellow flowers, evergreen, native to West Texas and the Chihuahua Desert and westward.

Falugia paradoxa, Apache Plume, white flowers and plumes spring into fall. Somewhat lanky in appearance, keep on the lean side. 3-5' x 4-6'T. Native.  (photo right)

Fendlera rupicola, Cliff Fendlerbush, semi-evergreen SW native shrub with white fragrant spring flowers. Likes dry rocky outcrops.

Forestiera neomexicana, New Mexico Privet, 12-18' x 12' wide, native in SW and Intermountain west. Pleasing tall shrub with small oval leaves and black berries. Flowers before leafing out A hardwood.

F. pubescens is our native privet, called the elbow bush, as it branches off in right angles.

Forsythis intermedia spectabilis, forsythia, yellow, late winter to early spring blooming, sun or shade, 2-6' tall.

Fouquieria splendens, Ocotillo, cold hardy to 10 degrees. SW native. Vase shaped clump up to 10 ft. Leafless most of the year. Late spring blooming at the end of thorny branches, orange red to red flowers.

Garrya ovata var lindheimeri, Garrya, Mexican Silktassel, Native to South Texas, whitish green flowers in spring. Evergreen. To 8'.

Genista lydia, hardy dwarf broom, Lydia broom, 12” x 4', yellow late spring blooming.

Hesperaloe parviflora, Texas Red yucca, reddish pink blooms summer long on thick succulent dark green leaves. Up to 3', native to southern Texas and Mexico.

Hibiscus syriacas, althea, Rose of Sharon, many varieties and colors, to 6-9ft. tall.

Ilex cornuta “Burfordii', Burford Holly. Tall evergreen shrub, bright red berries in the fall.

Ilex decidua 'Cherry Berry', Cherry Berry Possumhaw, 12' deciduous multi-stemmed shrub, large showy red berries, native to the eastern Texas Panhandle. Other possumhaws will grow here as well.

Ilex vomitoria, Yaupon Holly, and other varieties. Texas and southern native up to 12-25 feet. Dwarf varieties available. Attractive landscape plant.

Juniperus horizontalis, various cultivars, creeping juniper 6-18 inches x 5'8 ft. Evergreen shrub, US native.

Juniperus monosperma, One Seed Juniper, cold hardy to -20. Grows in elevations between 3000 – 7000’. A noted allergen. Native to Texas Panhandle and the Rocky Mountains.

Krascheninnikovia lanata, (previously Ceratoides lanata),Winterfat, 1-3' x 2-4', winter interest. Native to SW and Western US.

Lagerstroemia indica, Crape Myrtle, mainly a shrub in the Texas Panhandle, however, there are some crape myrtles that have grown to tree form. Single or multi trunked, it may even die back to the ground in cold winters, root hardy. Summer flowering. Non-native.

Larrea tridentata, Creosotebush. Evergreen shrub from 3-6’T x 3-8’W. Found in both the cold and warm deserts up to 6000’.

Mahonia aquifolia, upright grape holly, shade to part sun (afternoon shade), yellow flowers in early spring, blueish black berries in summer. 2-5' wide x 5-8' tall. (photo right)

Mahonia repans, creeping Oregon grape holly, shade to part sun (afternoon shade). Four season of color plant with yellow flowers in early spring, black berries in the summer and reddish foliage in winter. Evergreen, low water-use, well amended soil.

Myrica cerifera, Southern Wax Myrtle, medium water-use and average garden soil. Evergreen leaves, tall shrub or small tree. Native to eastern and southern US.

Nandina domestica, several varieties, sun or shade, evergreen most years, red berries in fall and winter. Versatile, excellent for containers. Adds a nice airy element, good for a Japanese style garden.

Nolina microcarpa, bear grass, shaggy clumping grasslike leaves. White flowers in spring. SW native.

Nolina texana, Texas Bear grass, slow growing with stiff, thin, upright grass-like evergreen leaves. White summer flowering, native to south Texas. 1 ½ to 2 ½ ft. tall and wide.

Perovskia atripicifolia, Russian Sage, violet purple blooms summer to fall. Sage fragrance. Low maintenance and water-use.

Philadelphus lewisii 'Cheyenne', Lewis mock orange, 6-9' x 5-8', white fragrant flowers in spring. Native to Western US.

Philadelphus microphylla, Littleleaf Mockorange, several varieties, Western native up to 6' x 6'.

Photinia x fraseri, Fraser photinia, 6 – 9' tall, sun or shade. A quite over-used shrub. Non native.

Potentilla fructosa var. purdimii, and other varieties, Forever Gold Potentilla, shrubby cinquefoil, yellow flowers fron spring to fall with moisture. Low water-use.

Prosopis pubescens, Screwbean Mesquite. Grows to 20’ tall x 15’. Coldy hardy to -10 and found growing in New Mexico up to 5,500’. Pale yellow flowers in clusters in spring and early summer. The bean looks like a corkscrew and is poisonous.

Prunus besseyi, western sand cherry, native shrub, SW and Western US, 4-6' x 4-6'. White spring flowers.

Purshia mexicana, Cliffrose, (previously Cowenia mexicana) quinine bush, small yellow flowers in spring.
Quercus gambelii, Gambel Oak, native shrub grows in elevations 4000-8000’, but a requires similar moisture conditions to the Piñon Pine.

Quercus turbinella, Shrub Live Oak, more heat and drought tolerant than Gambel Oak, native shrub is found in rocky sloped elevations 3500 – 8000’.

Rhus aromatica ‘Gro Low’, 3’ x 8’, Gro-Low Sumac, colorful fall foliage and tiny yellow spring flowers. Native shrub.

Rhus microphylla, littleleaf sumac, lemita, 4-12” tall and 6-14' wide, can colonize, use as a hedge or for creating wildlife habitats. Native.

Rhus typhina, staghorn sumac, 8-10' x 8-15' Tall or larger. Colonizes, sun-shade, any soil. Good habitat plant, native.

Rhus trilobata, three leaf sumac, skunkbush, squawbush, lemonade sumac, 5-6' x 6', not poisonous. Native shrub.

Ribes aureum, Golden Current. Grows 3-6’T x 3-4’W in elevations 2500 – 8000’. Golden yellow flowers in early spring followed by edible red currents that ripen to blue-black by June-July. Cold hardy to -30° and drought tolerant.

Ribes cereum, Western Wax Currant, spring flowers and red summer berries, native to Western US. Habitat plant.

Rosa woodsii, Woods Rose, wild native rose, flowers are white to rose color in late spring. Can form thickets.

Senna wizlizenii, Shrubby Senna, (formerly Cassia wizlizenii), Zone 7. Did not prove to be cold hardy.

Shepherdia argentea, Silver Buffaloberry, grows to 6-18’T x 4-15’W. Cold hardy to -30. The flowers are inconspicuous, but in July the female shrubs are filled with red fruits.

Symphoricarpos albus, Snowberry bush, 2-3' x 2-3', white flowers and berries in spring. Native.

Syringa vulgaris, common lilac, 8-15' wide x 6-20' tall. Spring blooming with white, pink, and all shades of lilac/violet flowers. Very fragrant. Low care and water.

Vauquelinia corymbosa var. angustifolia, Chisos Rosewood, Evergreen small tree or large shrub, native to SW. (photo right)

Viburnam lentago, nannyberry, Blackhaw, 8-12' x 6-8' wide, shade. Native to northern US. Medium water-use in well amended soil. White flowers in spring, attractive, good habitat tall shrub.

Viburnam lantana, wayfaring tree, white flowers in May, 10-15' x 10-15'. Non-native.

Vitex agnus-castus, vitex, chaste tree, summer lilac, Summer blooming, blue fragrant flowers, Native across the south and SW tall shrub 10 – 25' tall, can sucker.

Yuccas, many yuccas are shrub size. Most are succulent and all are evergreen. Please refer to the Plants Profile section on yuccas for the numerous species suitable for the Texas Panhandle.

Plant List added to www.Highplainsgardening 2/8/09.

Angie Hanna