Plants For East Texas


Keith C. Hansen – Smith County Extension Horticulturist

This compilation of landscape plants for northeast Texas is intended to be used as a guide for selecting plants that are proven performers. Input for the list came from leading horticulturists, growers and nurserymen from throughout the region. The following plants are hardy, reliable, lack major problems and are available in our area. There are many other good plants which also merit attention; not everyone’s favorite will be on the list. However, you can be sure these will thrive in your landscape if given reasonable care.

Plants are listed alphabetically within categories by common name, followed by – (other common names), botanical name, light preference, evergreen or deciduous, along with comments regarding cultivars, special needs or attributes, and average landscape width. The symbol texas_shadow2 indicates a Texas native.

Within some categories, a plant group may have several outstanding members, such as hollies and oaks. A few species or varieties are listed to highlight some of the best in that group.

For printable pdf file of this document, click here.

Groundcovers Dwarf Shrubs Large Shrubs Medium Trees
Vines Medium Shrubs Small Trees Tall Trees


Ajuga – (Carpet Bugle); Ajuga reptans; partial shade to shade; ‘Catlin’s Giant’, ‘Chocolate Chip’

Asiatic JasmineTrachelospermum asiaticum; sun to shade; several cultivars – strong spreader, not for small areas

English IvyHedera helix; shade; also a clinging vine; many cultivars. Not for painted surfaces; keep out of trees; can get out of control; not for small areas.

Ferns – several types. Evergreen: holly fern, autumn fern, tassel fern, Christmas fern; Deciduous: wood fern, Japanese painted fern; sensitive fern; shade; 2′ wide (some texas_shadow2)

JuniperJuniperus spp; sun; several selections including: ‘Blue Pacific’, ‘Emerald Sea’, ‘Bar Harbor, ‘Blue Chip’, ‘Shore’, ‘Green Mound’; J. procumbens (Japanese garden juniper); ‘Blue Rug’; 5′ wide

Liriope – (Lily Turf); Liriope muscari; shade; several selections including: ‘Majestic’, ‘Big Blue’, ‘Variegated’; ‘Silvery Sunproof’; clumps 1′ wide. L. spicata – strong spreading species.

Mondograss – (Monkeygrass); Ophiopogon japonicus; partial shade to shade; cultivars include: ‘Nanus’ (dwarf), ‘Nigrescens’ (black)

Pachysandra – (Japanese Spurge); Pachysandra terminalis; shade. ‘Green Sheen’

Japanese Sweet FlagAcorus graminus; sun to shade; evergreen; slow spreader; ‘Ogon’, Oborouki’

Sedum – several types, sun to part shade; good for small areas

Golden OreganoOreganum vulgare ‘Aureum’; sun; evergreen; drought tolerant

VINES – Perennial Types:

Boston IvyParthenocissus tricuspidata; sun to partial shade; deciduous texas_shadow2

Carolina JessamineGelsemium sempervirens; sun to partial shade; semi-evergreen texas_shadow2

ClematisClematis spp.; sun to partial shade; deciduous to semi-evergreen; many species & cultivars; keep roots cool, in shade, top in sun (some texas_shadow2 such as C. texana)

Coral Honeysuckle – (Trumpet Honeysuckle); Lonicera sempervirens; sun to partial shade; evergreen texas_shadow2

CrossvineBignonia capreolata; sun to partial shade; semi-evergreen; ‘Tangerine Beauty’ texas_shadow2

Fig Ivy – (Climbing Fig); Ficus pumila; sun to partial shade; for painted surfaces; evergreen (foliage may burn in winter)

KadsuraKadsura japonica; sun to part shade; evergreen; green and variegated (‘Fukurin’) varieties; not common in trade

WisteriaWisteria frutescens; sun; deciduous texas_shadow2; oriental types aggressive and not recommended

VINES – Annual Types:

Cardinal Climber; Hyacinth Bean; gourds; Mandevilla; Black-eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata); Blue Skyflower (Thunbergia grandiflora) – blooms late

DWARF SHRUBS – (up to 4 feet) (some with occasional shearing):

Autumn SageSalvia gregii; sun; semi-evergreen; long summer blooming season; many cultivars texas_shadow2

AzaleasRhododendron spp; morning sun to light shade; semi-evergreen; small types include Gumpo & some Satsuki varieties; ‘Coral Bells’, ‘Watchet’, ‘Wakaebisu’, ‘Higasa’, ‘Autumn Embers’, ‘Autumn Chiffon’, 3′ – 4′ wide

Barberry (dwarf varieties)Berberis spp.; sun; deciduous to semi-evergreen; ‘Crimson Pygmy’, ‘Kobold’, B. buxifolia ‘Nana’; 3′ – 4′ wide

BoxwoodBuxus microphylla; sun to partial shade; evergreen; ‘Wintergreen’, Japanese boxwood; 1′ – 4′ wide

Chinese Fringe-FlowerLoropetalum chinense ‘Shang-lo’ (Purple Pixie™); sun; evergreen. New very dwarf variety

Dwarf GardeniaGardenia jasminoides ‘Radicans’; sun to part shade; evergreen; whiteflies occasionally a problem; 2′ – 3′ wide

HollyIlex spp; sun to shade; evergreen; several excellent species and cultivars: I. vomitoria ‘Nana’, ‘Schillings’ (dwarf yaupon holly – texas_shadow2); I. cornuta‘Carissa’, ‘Rotunda’ (dwarf Chinese holly); I. crenata‘Helleri’, ‘Compacta’ (dwarf Japanese holly); 3’-5’ wide

Japanese Plum YewCephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Prostrata’; part sun to shade; evergreen; 4’ – 6’ wide

JunipersJuniperus spp; sun; evergreen; ‘Tam Juniper’; 4′ wide

Indian HawthornRhaphiolepis indica; sun; evergreen; ‘Enchantress’, ‘Pinkie’, ‘Clara’ and other dwarf varieties; 3′ – 4′ wide Note: Entomosporium leaf spot can be problem in shaded, moist locations

Dwarf Crape MyrtlesLagerstroemia (hybrid dwarf varieties); sun; deciduous; ‘Pokomoke’ and ‘Chickasaw’ newer hybrids resistant to powdery mildew; 3′ wide

NandinaNandina domestica (dwarf varieties); sun to partial shade; evergreen; color is best in full sun; ‘Harbour Dwarf’, ‘Gulf Stream’, ‘Firepower’; 2′ wide

SpireaSpirea xbulmalda, S. japonica; sun; deciduous; ‘Shirobana’, ‘Goldflame’, ‘ Goldmound’, ‘Lime Mound’, ‘Magic Carpet’, ‘Little Princes’, ‘Heather’; 2′ – 3′ wide

Virginia SweetspireItea virginica; sun to part shade; semi-evergreen to deciduous; spreading by suckers with open growth habit; ‘Henry’s Garnet’ 5’ – 6’ wide texas_shadow2

MEDIUM SHRUBS (4 to 9 feet)

Abelia – (Glossy Abelia); Abelia grandiflora; sun to partial shade; semi-evergreen; ‘Compacta’, ‘Edward Goucher’, ‘Sherwoodii’, ‘Francis Mason’, ‘Kaleidoscope’, ‘Hopely’; 4′ – 6’ wide

Aucuba – (Gold Dust Aucuba); Aucuba japonica; shade (no direct sun); evergreen; ‘Variegata’ (Gold Dust), ‘Picturata’; 3′ wide

AzaleaRhododendron spp.; morning sun to shade; semi-evergreen or deciduous; many varieties; 3′ – 8′ wide

Barberry – (Japanese Barberry); Berberis thunbergii; sun; semi-evergreen; ‘Atropurpurea’, ‘Rose Glow’; 4′ – 5′ wide

Bridal WreathSpirea x vanhouttei, S. thunbergii.; sun to partial shade; deciduous; white flowers early spring; 5’ – 10’ wide

CamelliaCamellia japonica, C. sasanqua; partial sun; evergreen; hundreds of varieties; Sasanqua varieties bloom early winter, often escaping freeze damage, while Japanese camellias bloom mid to late winter and can suffer bloom damage unless in a protected location; 4′ – 15′ wide

Chinese Fringe BushLoropetalum chinense ‘Purple Diamond’; sun; new variety with more compact growth habit; 4’ – 5’ wide

Cleyera – Ternstroemia gymnanthera; sun to partial shade; evergreen; 5′ – 6’ wide

Crape MyrtleLagerstroemia indica; semi-dwarf varieties; sun; deciduous; range of sizes, colors; look for newer hybrid, intermediate sizes with powdery mildew resistance; 5’- 12′ wide

FatsiaFatsia japonica; shade; evergreen; bold texture; 6’ – 10’ wide

HollyIlex cornuta; sun; evergreen; ‘Dwarf Burford’, ‘Berries Jubilee’, ‘Dazzler’; ‘Needle Point’; 4’ – 8’ wide depending on variety

HydrangeaBigleaf HydrangeaHydrangea macrophylla; Oakleaf HydrgangeaH. quercifolia texas_shadow2; partial shade; deciduous; 4’ – 8’ wide

Indian HawthornRhaphiolepis indica; sun; evergreen; several cultivars; Note: Entomosporium leaf spot can be problem in shaded, moist locations. 4′ – 6′ wide

JuniperJuniperus spp; sun; evergreen; ‘Compact Pfitzer’, ‘Sea Green’, ‘Blue Vase’, ‘Blue Point’, ‘Pfitzer’, others; 6′ – 9′ wide

Leatherleaf MahoniaMahonia bealei; shade; upright growth; attractive yellow flowers and blue fruit; 3’ – 4’ wide

NandinaNandina domestica; sun to partial shade; evergreen; 3′ – 4′ wide

RosesRosa spp. sun; semi-evergreen; shrub type; ‘Knockout’ and related varieties & Earth-Kind selections with disease resistance; 4’- 6’ wide

Texas Sage – (Ceniza); Leucophyllum frutescens; sun; evergreen; several cultivars; 4′ wide texas_shadow2

LARGE SHRUBS (over 9 feet) – (some good candidates for screening)

Althea (Rose of Sharon)Hibiscus syriacus; sun to partial shade; deciduous; old fashioned favorite with many colors; 6’ – 10’ wide

Banana ShrubMichelia figo; partial shade; evergreen; highly fragrant flowers; 6’ – 10’ wide

CamelliaCamellia japonica, C. sasanqua; partial sun; evergreen; hundreds of varieties; Sasanqua varieties bloom early winter, often escaping freeze damage, while Japanese camellias bloom mid to late winter and can suffer bloom damage unless in a protected location; 4′ – 15′ wide

Cherry LaurelPrunus caroliniana; compact variety available (‘Bright ‘n Tight’, ‘Compacta’ 8′ to 10′ tall); sun to partial shade; evergreen; can grow into small tree; 14′ – 16′ wide texas_shadow2

Chinese Fringe ShrubLoropetalum chinense; sun; evergreen; rubrum varieties (many) with reddish-purple foliage and pink flowers; old-fashioned variety has green leaves and white flowers; can grow up to 15’ tall; up to 8’ wide

Crape MyrtleLagerstroemia spp; sun; deciduous; hybrid varieties with mildew resistance; 8′ – 10′ wide

ElaeagnusElaeagnus spp; sun to partial shade; evergreen; ‘Ebbingei’, ‘Fruitlandii’; 5’ – 10’ wide

HollyIlex spp; several types; sun; evergreen; ‘Nellie R. Stevens’, ‘Foster’s’, ‘Savannah’, ‘Needlepoint’; Yaupon texas_shadow2, ‘Festive’ and other “Red Holly” varieties”; 6′ – 15′ wide (depending on variety)

Japanese YewPodocarpus macrophylla; sun to shade; evergreen; 8′ wide

JuniperJuniperus spp; sun; evergreen; many cultivars including ‘Skyrocket’, ‘Blue Point’, ‘Hollywood’; 6′ – 8′ wide

Photinia, ChinesePhotinia serrulata; sun; evergreen; can grow into small tree; 10′ – 15′ wide

Southern Wax MyrtleMyrica cerifera; sun to partial shade; evergreen; 8′ – 12′ wide texas_shadow2

SMALL TREES (under 25 feet)

Crape MyrtleLagerstroemia spp; sun; deciduous; comes in many sizes and forms; hybrids, many with Indian names have powdery mildew resistance, attractive bark, showy blooms, fall color; some cultivars can get up to 30′ tall (see next category) so do homework before purchasing; short list of good CM varieties; database of CM by color/size; McKinney CM web site for complete list of crape myrtle varieties; 15 – 20′ wide

DogwoodCornus florida; partial sun; deciduous; white and pink varieties; well-drained acid soil; give protection from full sun, difficult to establish; attractive bark, red fruit, fall color; 15′ – 20′ wide texas_shadow2

Fringetree – (Grancy Greybeard); Chionanthus virginicus; also C. retusus – Chinese Fringetree; sun to partial shade; deciduous; acid soil; 15′ wide texas_shadow2

HollyIlex spp; sun to shade; Yaupon Holly, I. vomitoria (evergreen); Possum Haw or Deciduous Holly, I. decidua (deciduous); only female plants bear fruit; 10′ wide (both texas_shadow2)

Japanese Black PinePinus thunbergiana; sun; evergreen; 25′ wide

Japanese MapleAcer palmatum, A. japonicum; partial sun to high shade; deciduous; many cultivars with different forms, most with dramatic fall color; 10′ – 15′ wide

Magnolia: (deciduous types); sun to part shade; Saucer or Tulip Magnolia – M. soulangiana; Star Magnolia – M. stellata; and M. hybrids; (Little Girl cultivars); (evergreen type): M. grandiflora ‘Little Gem’ – very compact variety texas_shadow2; 15′ wide

Mexican PlumPrunus mexicana; sun; deciduous; texas_shadow2

RedbudCercis canadensis; sun; deciduous; ‘Oklahoma’, ‘Forest Pansy’; ‘Avondale’ (C. chinensis); 15′ – 25′ wide texas_shadow2

Vitex – (Lavender Tree); Vitex agnus-castus; sun; deciduous; lilac blooms; 15′ wide

MEDIUM TREES (25 to 50 feet)

American HollyIlex opaca; sun to shade; evergreen; slow to moderate growth; only female plants bear fruit; 15′ – 20′ wide texas_shadow2

Cedar ElmUlmus crassifolia; sun; deciduous; tolerates drought, heavy soils; 40’ – 60’ wide texas_shadow2

Chinese PistachePistacia chinensis; sun; deciduous; reliable fall color; Texas SuperStar; 30′ – 40′ wide

CrabappleMalus spp; sun; deciduous; 20 to 25 feet; select disease resistant cultivars; 25′ wide

Crape MyrtleLagerstroemia; Several cultivars attain heights of 25 – 30’ tall; look for hybrid varieties (many with Indian tribe names) with resistance to powdery mildew; attractive exfoliating bark, fall color; see references in Small Tree list above; 20’ – 30’ wide

Lacebark ElmUlmus parvifolia; sun to partial shade; deciduous; attractive bark; 35′ – 50′ wide

MagnoliaMagnolia spp; sun to partial shade; some M. grandiflora (Southern Magnolia) cultivars stay small texas_shadow2; M. x soulangiana (Saucer or Tulip Magnolia); 15′ – 40′ wide

Maple, RedAcer rubrum; sun; deciduous; beautiful fall color; 25′ – 30′ wide texas_shadow2

Maple, other speciesAcer barbatum (Texas Sugar Maple) texas_shadow2, A. leucoderme (Chalk Maple) texas_shadow2; A. truncatum (Shantung Maple); deciduous; sun; 25′ – 30′ wide

LARGE TREES (over 50 feet)

Bald CypressTaxodium distichum; sun; deciduous; tolerates wet soils; similar species – T. ascendens (Pond Cypress) & T. mucronatum (Monterrey Cypress); 30′ – 40′ wide texas_shadow2

BlackgumNyssa sylvatica; sun; deciduous; fall color; tolerates wet soils, slow growing; 30′ wide texas_shadow2

GinkgoGinkgo biloba; sun; deciduous; slow growing, brilliant yellow fall color; look for male (fruitless) varieties; 40′ wide

MapleAcer rubrum; sun; deciduous; Red Maple most common, Trident Red Maple and Drummond Red Maple frequently grown; A. barbatum – Southern Sugar Maple; 25′ – 30′ wide texas_shadow2

OaksQuercus spp.; sun; many species – among highest rated are: Shumard Red Oak, Q. shumardii (deciduous); Live Oak, Q. virginiana (evergreen); Willow Oak, Q. phellos (deciduous); White Oak, Q. alba (deciduous); 40′ – 70′ wide texas_shadow2

PecanCarya illinoensis; sun; deciduous; can be messy; look for recommended varieties; consider native, ungrafted trees; 40′ – 60′ wide texas_shadow2

River BirchBetula nigra; sun; deciduous; attractive peeling bark; ‘Heritage’ and improved variety; 30′ – 60’ wide texas_shadow2

Southern MagnoliaMagnolia grandiflora; sun to partial shade; evergreen; drops leaves all year; turf doesn’t’ grow underneath; consider leaving branches full to the ground; 30′ – 50′ wide texas_shadow2

SweetgumLiquidamber styraciflua; sun; deciduous; ‘Rotundiloba’ is a fruitless variety; 30′ – 50’ wide texas_shadow2

Tulip Poplar – (Yellow Poplar); Liriodendron tulipifera; sun; deciduous; fast-growing; gets very large, needs room and good drainage; not for small properties; 30′ – 50′ wide texas_shadow2

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