Recommended Plants

The following references provide extensive lists of low-need plants suited to Orange County. Detailed information for each plant makes it easy to create an attractive and water-efficient landscape.

By Season

Bloom & Berry
Create a garden with year-round interest using our local calendar of plants in bloom or with other seasonal interest, such as berries, bark or foliage. Each list item links to photos and culture information, making the calendar a great planning tool.

By Water Need



  • Plants used along NC highways
    tough plants that can survive with no special care, emphasis on natives
  • Deer-resistant plants
  • Earth-Kind
    includes many plants that are also grown in our area. Ratings are based on water use plus heat tolerance, soil tolerance, fertility requirements, and pest resistance for each Texas region. The region most closely matching our own is northeast Texas (Region C — Pineywoods area). comments on the habit, size, fruit and flowering, ornamental value, and disease susceptibility. If you are considering a particular plant, see if it is in the list and click on it to view these other attributes. Because the climate is not identical to ours, some virtues or concerns may not apply here. Earth-Kind also field-tests roses for tolerance to pests, heat, and drought while delivering outstanding landscape performance.
  • Landscape uses for ornamental grasses
    Excellent. Don’t miss the drought tolerance page or the grass comparison chart. Each grass page has photos and, for natives, distribution maps.


Four major mechanisms permit some tree species to adapt to compacted soil, whose lack of medium and large pore spaces results in poor gas exchange with the atmosphere, limited tree-available water, and mechanical impedance to root growth:

  • quick and effective reaction to mechanical damage
  • continued respiration under low oxygen conditions
  • absorbing roots that turn over, reorient, and adjust to changing soil conditions
  • effective detoxification of the chemically reduced materials present in anaerobic conditions

The trees below tolerate compacted soil. Note, however, that many of the species in the list above appear on the lists of problem trees shown further down on this page.

Scientific name Common name
Betula nigra river birch
Cercis canadensis redbud
Crataegus spp. hawthorns
Diospyros virginiana persimmon
Ilex spp. holly
Juniperus virginiana Eastern redcedar
Magnolia virginiana sweetbay
Nyssa spp. tupelo/black gum
Pinus taeda loblolly pine
Quercus bicolor swamp white oak
Quercus lyrata overcup oak
Quercus macrocarpa bur oak
Quercus michauxii swamp chestnut oak
Quercus nuttallii Nuttall oak
Quercus palustris pin oak
Quercus phellos willow oak
Quercus shumardii Shumard oak
Taxodium distichum baldcypress


Because some species, including natives, are invasive in the right habitat, it is wise to check before you introduce any plant. The references below show how to identify and eliminate invasive species.

Problem Trees

The table identifies trees that are genetically predisposed to problems that make them highly susceptible to storm damage. Read more about these issues in Storms.

Species Poor Form Decay Girdling Roots
Red maple
Silver maple
Littleleaf linden
European mountain ash  
Green ash  
Bradford pear    
Amur cherry    
American basswood    
Northern pin oak    
Red oak    
Black oak    
Gray birch    
Norway maple    


The Resources section of our homepage lists regional parks, public gardens, and arboreta and has a searchable map of places of special interest. The map bubbles list visit highlights and, where available, plant lists and trail maps. There are also links to independent local retailers for plants, soil, mulch, amendments, and tools.