10 Native Trees Landscape Designers Love

7. Texas Mountain Laurel
(Dermatophyllum secundiflorum)
Native to the southwestern United States

Loved by: Gregory Thomas of CG&S Design-Build in Austin, Texas

Why this tree: “It’s a hardy evergreen shrub that can be trained into a small, multitrunked tree,” Thomas says. He adds that Texas mountain laurel’s pendulous, grape candy-scented flowers in early spring are a standout feature, with attractive seedpods following. (Caution: The seeds inside the pods are poisonous.)

Special features: “It’s drought-resistant and fine with our intense heat and periodic deep freezes. It’s happy in our alkaline limestone soils. It’s slow-growing — meaning that it’s a long-lived, durable species. It’s also a legume, and as such sets its own nitrogen in the soil, and it needs little input,” Thomas says, adding that it will appreciate being deeply watered in drier times.

Growing tips: As Texas mountain laurel grows, “try gradual, selective pruning to slowly transform it from a shrub into a multitrunk tree. It blooms best when planted in full sun,” Thomas says. He adds that it can become susceptible to a certain caterpillar type, which can be removed by hand, water or other means if the infestation is particularly bad. And note that this tree “doesn’t like to be transplanted. At all. Ever. No way,” Thomas says.

Where it will grow: Hardy to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 9.4 degrees Celsius (zones 8 to 10)
Water requirement: Low
Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: Up to 15 feet tall and wide