The 11 Best Native Plants to Include in Your Austin Sustainable Landscaping Plan

Ben Collinsworth

The best plants not only look good in your commercial landscape, but they also don’t require all of your attention and resources.

Native and adaptive plants are drought-tolerant, resistant to diseases and pests, require fewer chemicals, use less water and will thrive better in local conditions compared to non-native varieties. Installing native varieties will help you enhance your property and also save money on utilities and maintenance.

Native plants are perfect sustainable landscape design options for your Austin property.

Austin Landscaping

Central Texas has its own set of weather, soil and climate conditions that sets it apart from the rest of the state, making it important to choose plants that match the environment.

The climate in Austin is humid subtropical with mild winters and hot summers. It’s also known to have higher amounts of rainfall and flooding compared to other parts of the state, especially in the past few years. Austin is less humid than areas like Houston.

Here are 11 of the top native plants that will thrive in your sustainable landscape design in Austin.


Native Trees

HoneyInstalling native trees can add shade and aesthetic value to you commercial landscape.

Live Oaks (evergreen) can be planted in any region in the state around early fall. You shouldn’t plant them near sidewalks or parking lots because of their large root systems.

The trees grow fairly slow, reaching 30 to 50 feet tall with a 50-foot spread. They need full sun.


Desert willow (deciduous) has long, narrow leaves that resemble those found on willows. Its flowers are trumpet shaped and range from light pink to light violet. This tree can grow 15 to 20 feet, with a 15- to 20-foot spread.

Another fall favorite, Bigtooth Maple (deciduous) is the best maple for alkaline soils. It needs sun to part-shade conditions and showcases red and gold foliage during the autumn months. It can grow 20 to 50 feet tall with a 20- to 30-foot spread.


Native Shrubs

ShrubYou can give your commercial landscape some natural structure, along with pops of color, by adding these native shrubs.

Texas Sage (evergreen) provides massive amounts of purple flowers several times during the growing season. They should be planted in early spring or early fall in full sun, and they have a 4 to 5 foot height with a 4 to 5 foot spread.

Texas Sage is best for Central Texas to the Valley. It’s an all-around great shrub.

Pride of Barbados has showy orange and red blooms, helping it catch visitors’ eyes. It grows well in alkaline to acidic, well-drained soils. The shrub can reach 8 to 12 feet in height and requires full sun.

For spring to fall color, try Thyrallis (evegreen), which produces stunning yellow blooms. This shrub is easy to grow and tolerates most soils. It grows 4 to 6 feet tall and has a 4-foot spread. The shrub may require periodical pruning to keep it looking pristine.


Native Perennials

Lambs EarIf you’re looking for plants that will come back each year, check out these three eye-catching perennials that are native or adaptive to Austin.

It’s easy to see where Batface Cuphea (deciduous) gets its name. The red and purple flowers resemble the winged animal and appear late spring to fall. This plant requires sun to part shade and is very heat tolerant. It grows about 1 foot tall and wide. The plant needs to be cut back to 6 inches after cold damage occurs, but before spring growth begins.

Lamb’s Ear (deciduous) is a good option if you’re looking to add color and texture without flowers. This plant has gray, fuzzy leaves and attracts bees. It grows to 1 foot tall and has a 1.5-foot spread. The plant does best in the sun and has visual interest year round. Avoid overhead watering with this plant to support healthy growing.

For aromatic foliage, try Mexican Oregano (evergreen), which has lavender/pink flowers. It grows 3 feet high and has a 4-foot spread. The plant thrives in sun to part-shade areas and has edible leaves. The perennial attracts butterflies and hummingbirds and will sprawl if not properly pruned.


Native Vines

Native VinesCatch your tenants’ and visitors’ attention by adding native vines to pergolas, garden walls, trellises and other structures.

Texas Wisteria (deciduous) has a high heat tolerance and does best in sun to part-shade areas of your landscape. It has bluish-lilac flowers in the spring that are very fragrant. The vine grows 25 to 30 feet with a 3- to 6-foot spread. It should be pruned so you can direct and control its growth.

Perfect for providing quick cover for chain-link fences, Mexican Flame Vine (deciduous) is a non-aggressive twining vine with thick, glossy leaves. The vine has orange flowers and spreads out to 10 feet or more. It thrives in sun to part shade and attracts bees, butterflies and birds.

Incorporate Sustainable Landscaping into Your Austin Property

Adding sustainable elements like native plants can make a huge difference on your commercial landscape.

Not only will the plants thrive better, but they will also require less maintenance and water, cutting your costs. So, find a landscape company that is focused on providing “green” services.

Our name probably gave it away, but Native Land Design is all about sustainable landscaping practices and native plants. Our team works to make all of our clients’ commercial properties energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

We achieve sustainable landscape designs in Austin and the rest of the state by installing native plants, updating irrigation systems, solving water management issues and using efficient products like LED landscaping lighting.

We are a full-service company and provide commercial landscaping services such as landscape enhancements, design, maintenance, construction, irrigation and water management.

Native Land Design services Austin, Houston and McAllen, Texas, and we would love to work with you to find the right native plants to enhance your property.

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Ben Collinsworth


Before Ben founded Native Land Design in 2001, he earned a Bachelor's degree in Horticulture and Landscape Architecture from Texas A&M University. He’s an active member of ASLA, HBA of Austin, NHBA, PLANET, and BOMA. Ben, his wife and their three children reside in the Cedar Park area.

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