Top Native Plants for Southern Alberta Landscapes

In this guide, we’ll explore the best native plants for landscaping in Southern Alberta, tailored to the region’s semi-arid climate and varied soil conditions. Our focus is on drought-resistant varieties, which are key to sustainable gardening in this area. Choosing native plants not only enhances the ecological balance but also reduces maintenance needs. 

We’ll cover a range of trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses, each adapted to thrive in Southern Alberta, providing practical insights for homeowners looking to create resilient and attractive landscapes.

Understanding Southern Alberta’s Climate and Soil for Effective Gardening

Southern Alberta’s landscape offers a unique challenge to gardeners due to its diverse climate zones and varying soil types. By understanding these factors, you can make informed choices about which plants to incorporate into your landscape, especially focusing on drought-resistant varieties.

  1. Southern Alberta’s Climate: This region is characterized by a semi-arid climate, experiencing low precipitation, dry winds, and significant temperature variations between seasons.  
  1. Soil Types: The soil in southern Alberta varies widely, ranging from fertile loams in the river valleys to more challenging clay and sandy soils in other areas. These soil types can affect water retention, nutrient availability, and the overall health of plants.
  1. Why Drought-Resistant Plants Thrive: These plants have evolved to survive in environments with limited water availability and are particularly well-suited for southern Alberta. Features like deep root systems, reduced leaf area, and waxy or hairy leaf surfaces help them conserve water and thrive in semi-arid conditions. 

Why Choose Native Plants?

Opting for native plants is not just a trend; it’s a smart, sustainable practice with significant benefits. Before we dive into which plants are best for southern Alberta, let’s first explore why you should consider them. 

Environmental Benefits

Native plants are perfectly adapted to our local climate and soil conditions. This means they require less water than their non-native counterparts, making them an eco-friendly choice. These plants also thrive without the need for chemical fertilizers, reducing the amount of harmful substances that seep into our groundwater and negatively impact surrounding habitats.

Supporting the Local Ecosystem

By planting species that are native to southern Alberta, you’re providing essential habitats for bees, butterflies, birds, and other local wildlife that call the region home. These creatures rely on native flora for food, shelter, and breeding grounds, making your garden a vital cog in the ecological wheel. 

Aesthetic Value and Local Identity

We would be remiss to overlook the unique aesthetic value that these plants bring to your landscape. Native plants have a distinct local identity, creating a natural, harmonious look that resonates with southern Alberta’s natural features. By choosing to use native plants in your garden, you’re ultimately celebrating and preserving a piece of our region’s natural identity.

Top Native Plants for Southern Alberta

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Here are some plant varieties that we recommend for landscaping in southern Alberta.

Trees and Shrubs 

  • Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides): Known for its distinctive quaking leaves, it thrives in a variety of soil conditions and provides a brilliant yellow fall colour. 
  • Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera): Adaptable to different soil varieties and serves as a good windbreak.
  • White Spruce (Picea glauca): A classic coniferous tree that offers year-round greenery and adapts well to different soil types. 


  • Saskatoon Berry (Amelanchier alnifolia): This shrub produces edible berries and lovely white flowers, thriving in both dry and moist conditions.
  • Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana): Known for its dark berries and adaptable to a variety of soils. Provides food for wildlife and beautiful fall foliage. 
  • Wild Rose (Rosa acicularis): Alberta’s provincial flower, this hardy shrub features fragrant pink flowers and is tolerant of various soil types. 


  • Prairies Crocus (Anemone patens): An early bloomer with purple flowers that is often found on the prairie landscape. These flowers prefer well-drained soils.
  • Gaillardia (Gaillardia aristata): A vibrant, sun-loving flower with a long blooming period, it’s excellent for dry and sandy soils. 
  • Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa): Produces lovely lavender flowers, attracts pollinators, and is adaptable to a range of soil types. 


  • Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracillis): A drought-tolerant grass with unique blue-green blades.
  • Needle and Thread Grass (Hesperostipa comata): Known for its distinctive long awns, this grass is adapted to dry conditions. 
  • Prairie Wool (Koeleria macrantha): A low-maintenance grass that thrives in well-drained soils and offers a soft, find-textured appearance.

When integrating new plants into your space, always consider their growth habits, the size of your landscaping area, and your specific gardening goals. 


The landscaping choices you make can have far-reaching impacts beyond the appeal of your space. By choosing plant species native to southern Alberta, homeowners not only contribute to a healthier environment by conserving water and supporting local wildlife but also add unique aesthetic value to their gardens. 

The plants we’ve identified here are well-suited to the challenges posed by Southern Alberta’s climate and soil, offering a practical and sustainable approach to landscaping.