GARDENING: Xeric plants perform well in West Texas

By Jeff Floyd

Certified horticulturist and arborist

Texas is roughly divided in half by an imaginary line running north and south from the eastern edge of the panhandle. Look at any satellite image of the state and you’ll notice east of this line, the state is predominantly green, while the west is mostly brown. This line, known as the 100th meridian, separates the wet half of the Great Plains from the arid half. Texans living east of the 100th meridian, have a little easier time growing their favorite plants than we do in the west.

It’s all about the rainfall, both now and in the past. The eastern half of Texas receives more rainfall today than the west and its historical weather patterns are responsible for building soil that is more favorable for the plants we associate with attractive landscapes. This means more dollars, in terms of maintenance and resources, are needed to grow plants on the Llano Estacado (where we live) than in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.

The plants that perform best in West Texas are those that tolerate or adapt to a high pH soil, limited precipitation, and hard supplemental water. In other words, xeric. It’s difficult to find certain xeric plants in nurseries. They are more likely to stock the popular plants so familiar to wetter regions of the state. Fortunately, our local nurseries usually have a nice selection of drought-tolerant plants, or they may be willing to search their vendors for them.

One of the best places to see plants recommended for our area, or any area of the state for that matter, is the Earth-Kind® plant selector located online at On this site, you’ll plug in information to locate your region and be provided with options to look for plants that may meet your specific criteria. For example, you can search for growth habit, tolerance for sun or shade and plants with deciduous or evergreen foliage.

Start here for your plant search where hundreds of high-resolution color photographs may illustrate exactly what you’re looking for. Work with a landscape architect to enhance your ideas into a coherent low-maintenance landscape designed to work with our conditions rather than forcing plants to grow where they may ultimately fail.