Succulents such as cacti are commonly seen in desert gardens but there are also large number of trees, bushes, shrubs, small perennials and annuals to chose from. When planting for shade, design or color, look for plants that are native to El Paso/las cruces region and Chihuahuan desert. Many varieties are exclusively found in chihuahua desert. It may be difficult to find those specific varieties in local nurseries or online but it is still worth looking for. If unavailable, the next best option would be to look for varieties of the same species that have their native habitat in nearby southwest desert regions. Some plants native to other Texas areas may also do well here. All plants that are well adapted to our region may not necessarily be native. Many are natives of Africa, Australia or other arid lands around the world. Some of these may even be considered invasive species. Links given below can help you get more informed about invasive species.
While it is also helpful to grow well adapted non-natives for water conservation but planting natives also promotes diversity. It will help the native wild life, a few of which might depend solely on them. Commonly available plants in nurseries and other stores (even if well adapted to the region) often sell the same popular varieties around the nation. With the growth in residential developments and subsequent loss of wild lands, the native plants are being lost. It is crucial to educate ourselves about the species and specific varieties of plants that have lived here for thousands of years. We need to reintroduce these natives to our urban lands.
It is not to say that a garden should not have non-natives. But we should definitely expand the varieties we have in our gardens and look beyond the popular choices. There are variety of natives available in some local nurseries and online but we may overlook if are not intentional about finding something. Also we are very familiar with designing our garden space with popular varieties but the unfamiliarity with native plants causes doubts to incorporate these in gardens to achieve the desired look .
This website attempts to share ideas to expand the palette of plants, to include native plants in designing our urban spaces and gardens.