A xeriscape is a landscape which uses plants that have low
water requirements, making them able to withstand extended
periods of drought and to survive and actually thrive in areas
of low rainfall. Xeric landscapes are a conscious attempt to
develop plantings which are compatible with the natural
environment and not dependent on irrigation or sprinkler
systems. We know that different areas of the country have their
own unique climates, so we have decided to simply offer a list
of seeds that fall into the low water requirement/drought
resistant class. It is up to the individual reading this list
to determine if these plants are suitable for their specific
Important Note: Most of the seeds on this page will
benefit greatly from using the CAPE Smoke
Seed Germination Primer that we use in our own greenhouses.
We find we receive significantly better germination results
when we use this primer on these types of seeds.
Trees and Shrubs best suited for Xeriscaping
Neal Herbert, NPS
TRN483 Sand Sage ( Artemisia filifolia )
Growing about 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide, this is an ideal xeriscape shrub for zones 4-9. With its fine-textured green to gray foliage, Sand Sage is a small growing shrub that tolerates challenging growing conditions with lots of heat, sun, and drought. It's a very effective background plant in the xeriscape providing a dramatic backdrop of other perennials and ornamental grasses.
TRN491 Silver Sage ( Artemisia cana )
A low, rounded, freely branching, aromatic evergreen shrub growing 1-3 ft. in height. Leaves and branches are silvery gray. The yellow, summer flowers are inconspicuous. Imparts a graceful, wispy appearance when grown in masses.
Low germination by nature, we estimate about 25 percent being normal.
Stan Shebs: Wikipedia
TRM493 Desert Spoon ( Dasylirion wheeleri )
Dasylirion wheeleri is a moderate to slow-growing evergreen shrub with a single unbranched trunk up to 16 inches thick growing to about 5 feet tall, though often recumbent on the ground. The leaf blade is slender, gray-green, with a toothed margin. The leaves radiate from the center of the plant's apex in all directions (spherical).
The flowering stem grows above the foliage, to a height of 16 feet tall. The stem is topped by a long plume of straw-colored small flowers. The color of the flower determinate the gender of the plant, being mostly white colored for males and purple-pink for females.
It is grown as an ornamental plant, valued in xeriscaping. As it does not tolerate extended frosts, in temperate regions it is usually grown under glass. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
The alcoholic drink sotol, the northern cousin to tequila and mezcal, is made from the fermented inner cores of the desert spoon. It is the state drink of the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Durango, and Coahuila.
It was also used by the natives of the region for food and fiber. Its flower stalk can be used as a fire plow.
The Tarahumara and Pima Bajo peoples of the Sierra Madre Occidental of Chihuahua weave baskets from the leaves after they strip off the spines from the leaf margins. They also employ the expanded leaf bases in making large artificial flowers as holiday decorations.
TRN492 Low Rabbitbush ( Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus )
Native Perennial Shrub; Height, 1-3 feet. Requires 6" minimum precipitation. Used by the Southwest indians as gum, when grown in alkali soils it contains rubber.
Hardy to zone 3.
TRN493 Utah Service Berry ( Amelanchier utahensis )
A popular native shrub for its gorgeous fall foliage and deep burgundy-red new bark. Utah Service Berry has a showy spring display of white flowers, followed by summer ripening, purplish berries relished by bees and song birds. The small round leaves are glossy green in the summer and turn deep yellow to golden yellow in fall. Use it in hot, dry areas.
Note: These seeds need to be cold statified before
We recommend using the Seedman's Cold Stratification
Kits for cold stratification.
PINE28 Pinyon Nut Pine ( Pinus edulis )
The perfect xeriscape plant that will in time produce the famous pinyon nuts for eating.
The pinyon pine group grows in the southwestern United States and in Mexico. The trees yield edible pinyon nuts, which were a staple of the Native Americans, and are still widely eaten. The wood, especially when burned, has a distinctive fragrance, making it a common wood to burn in chimineas
The pinyon (Pinus edulis) is the state tree of New Mexico (pinon in Spanish means nut pine), the trees are relatively small and rarely harvested for timber. However, pinyon nuts and firewood are in demand.
Pinyon is well adapted to the 9 to 15 inches of precipitation it normally receives in its native habitat and is one of the best native plants to use in a low-water use landscapes.
Pinyons grow best when planted in full sun and well-drained soil, at altitudes of 7,500 feet or less.
Just as severe drought stresses pinyons, so does excessive moisture after establishment. Avoid planting them in lawns, except buffalo grass or blue grama. Too much water makes them prone to other insects; established pinyons that receive precipitation only generally have few pest insect problems.
Pinyon needles are 1-2 inches long, medium to dark green, and borne in bundles of two or three. Pinyon cones open up to look like a brown rose. The nuts in the cones are widely sought after by both people and animals.
However, one pinyon in a landscape is unlikely to bear nuts, the shells will be light tan and empty due to lack of sufficient pollen ( a pack of ten seeds should produce several plants ). Where there are more pinyon trees in an area (more pollen), cones may develop chocolate brown shells with nuts. It takes several years for pinyons to reach the size and age necessary to develop cones. Additionally, cones and nuts are not borne every year, but only in years following conducive weather and precipitation.
Pinyon trees can be planted in groups to form a screen or windbreak, or singly as a focal point in the Xeriscape garden along with yarrow, Russian sage, purple coneflower, desert four o'clock and winecups.
USDA zones 5-8.
2937 Wingstem ( Actinomeris alternifolia )
Charming rear border plant, large green center, yellow petals, strong stem, summer thru fall bloomer, sun or part shade. Grows 48" tall, annual blooming in about 10 weeks after transplanting.
E3102 Juneberry, Saskatoon Serviceberry ( Amelanchier alnifolia )
Low water requirements, grows as high as 10,000 feet. A
deciduous shrub that seldom exceeds 15 feet in height and
occasionally suckering to form a slowly spreading clump. An
easily grown plant, it prefers a rich loamy soil and thrives in
any soil that is not too dry or water-logged. The largest
yields, and best quality fruits, are produced when the plant is
grown in a sunny position, though it should also do reasonably
well in semi-shade. The plants are fairly lime tolerant and
they will also grow well in heavy clay soils. They are very
cold-hardy and will tolerate temperatures down to at least
-20°c and probably much lower. Flowers in Early Spring,
these white flowers are produced before the plants come into
leaf, and are usually produced so abundantly that the whole
plant turns white. They look particularly beautiful at this
time. By late June, or more commonly early to mid July, the
plants will usually be carrying large crops of fruits. These
fruits are about 15mm in diameter, they are soft, sweet and
juicy with a taste that reminds us of apples. Small enough to
be eaten without problems, though they can add a slightly
bitter almond-like flavor to the fruit if they are crushed
whilst eating. The fruit can also be cooked in pies etc., when
dried it is quite sweet and can be used in the same ways as
RLP071 Hop Bush ( Dodonaea viscosa )
Hop Bush (also known as Hopseed Bush) is a drought-tolerant shrub with an upright, branching form. It reaches a height of 12 feet with a 10 foot spread. Its willow-like leaves are 4 inches long.
The foliage is a bronzy-green color that turns a reddish shade in the winter months. Small clusters of yellowish-green flowers bloom in the spring and are followed by winged seed pods. The winged seeds look similar to hops from which beer is made, hence the name.
Makes a very nice informal hedge plant and a good xeriscape plant. Cold hardy to about 15 degrees.
B1717 Amur Maple ( Acer ginnala )
A fast growing small and dainty gray-barked tree with white
flowers and brilliant fall colors. Excellent specimen for small
yards or patios.
Good to 8,500 feet elevation in Colorado. Hardy for zones 2-8.
Requires a pH of 7.5 or less.
D1708 Kentucky Coffee Tree ( Gymnocladus dioica )
A large shade tree with long leaves that are pinkish in spring,
green in summer and yellow in fall. The seeds can be roasted
and eaten like nuts or made into a coffee substitute. The
bruised foliage when sprinkled with sweetened water will
attract and kill flies. Can be raised in containers.
A very picturesque plant in winter, it is hardy for zones 4-9.
Good to 8,000 feet elevation. Tolerates alkalinity, salt and
D2911 Golden Rain Tree ( Koelreuteria )
Golden raintree is a small, open-branching, irregularly-shaped, deciduous tree with a rounded crown which typically grows 30-40' tall and as wide. Features pinnate or bipinnate, feathery, compound leaves (to 18" long), each leaf having 7-17 irregularly lobed leaflets. Leaves emerge pinkish bronze to purplish in spring, mature to a bright green in summer and turn yellow (quality variable) in fall. Bright yellow flowers (1/2" wide) appear in early summer in long, terminal, panicles (12-15"). Falling blossoms may or may not resemble "golden rain", but the fallen blossoms often form an attractive golden carpet under the tree. Flowers give way to interesting, brown, papery seed capsules which somewhat resemble Chinese lanterns. For zones 5-9.
D7880 Rocky Mountain Junifer ( Juniperus scopulorun )
Rocky Mountain juniper is an evergreen large shrub or small
tree to 50' tall, but usually much smaller. Specimens are
variable in habit, sometimes squat and shrubby, but usually
narrowly cone shaped. The trunk is short and stout, often
dividing near the ground. The branches are rather thick and
spreading to partly erect. Rocky Mountain juniper has reddish
bark that is stringy in narrow strips but does not exfoliate.
Most of the leaves are like overlapping scales, closely pressed
to the twigs. Juvenile leaves, usually only found on young
seedlings, are more like needles, and they spread away from the
twigs. The foliage is dense and pleasantly aromatic.
Trees may have male or female cones, but not both. The
fruits are fleshy berrylike spherical cones, about one-third
inch in diameter. They are bright blue with a whitish bloom and
sweet tasting, with thin skins. Rocky Mountain juniper is
closely related and quite similar to eastern redcedar, and was
once believed to be the same species. But eastern redcedar has
fruits that mature in a single season, whereas those of Rocky
Mountain juniper take two year to ripen. Also, eastern redcedar
had exfoliating bark. The two species hybridize where their
Location: Rocky Mountain juniper occurs in isolated and
scattered localities within a wide band from British Columbia
to North Dakota, and south to Arizona and New Mexico. It grows
from near sea level in the northern part of its range to more
than 8000' above sea level in the south. Rocky Mountain juniper
grows in alkaline soils on ridges, cliffs and rocky slopes,
sometimes in pure stands, but more often in association with
other mountain loving evergreens such as ponderosa pine, pinyon
pine and Douglas-fir.
Culture: Rocky Mountain juniper is a slow growing tree
(6-12" per year), but one that can live more than 300 years. In
cultivation it tolerates acidic to alkaline soils, and does
best in those that are loose and well drained. It is best
adapted to culture in western and northern North America.
Light: Seedlings and saplings can tolerate rather dense shade,
but Rocky Mountain junipers, even the smaller cultivars, need
full sun to grow to their full potentials.
Moisture: Rocky Mountain juniper is tolerant of drought, but
perhaps less so than the other junipers. It should be watered
before the soil becomes completely dry. This juniper does
poorly in humid climates, but does fine in hot, dry
Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 - 7.
Usage: Use any of the cultivars of Rocky Mountain juniper for
attractive foliage effects in all seasons. This evergreen is
useful as a screen, hedge or foundation plant. They make great
anchors or focal points for the ends of hedges or mixed
borders. Rocky Mountain juniper is a tidy, formal accent shrub
alone or in small groups.
Features: Although most cultivars are probably too formal for
naturalistic gardens, Rocky Mountain juniper is ideal for neat,
well-organized landscapes. Most cultivars require little or no
pruning and are relatively free of cultural problems, insects
and diseases. They tolerate heat and drought well.
XERI02 Western US Xeriscape Flower Mix
A wonderful mix of flowers suitable for xeriscaping in the
Western US, containing:
Arroyo Lupine, Perennial Gaillardia, Poppy-California,
Gteenthread, Flax-Blue, Bluebell-California, Rocky Mountain
Penstemon, Bird’s Eyes, Tidy-Tips, Blazing Star,Prairie
Aster, Desert Marigold, Prairie Coneflower, Gooseberryleaf
Globemallow and Evening Primrose.
XERI04 Eastern US Xeriscape Flower Mix
A wonderful mix of flowers suitable for xeriscaping in the
Eastern US, containing:
Purple Conef lower, Perennial Lupine, Annual Gaillardia, Lance
Leaved Coreopsis, Scarlet Sage, Pale Purple Coneflower,
Partridge Pea, Purple Prairie Clover, Dwarf Evening Primrose,
Clasping Coneflower, Prairie Coneflower, White Upland Aster,
Lavender Hyssop and Plains Coreopsis.
XERI06 Extra Dry Xeriscape Flower Mix
A wonderful mix of flowers found to do well in extremely dry
areas ( of course adequate moisture must be available for
plants to become established ), containing:
Perennial Gaillardia, California Poppy, Dwarf Cornflower,
Sulphur Cosmos, Blue Flax, Annual Gaillardia, Annual Baby's
Breath, California Bluebell, Rocky Mountain Penstemon, African
Stick Daisy, Blue Sage, Prairie Coneflower, Tidy-tips, African
Daisy, Spurred Snapdragon, Corn Poppy and Sweet Alyssum