Evergreen trees are any kind of tree that does not lose its leaves in the winter or dry season.
Often, when we think of evergreen trees, we think of coniferous trees like pines, but broadleaf trees like oaks and other trees can also be evergreen.
In New Mexico, many evergreen trees are found naturally in the mountains and foothills, but many more can easily be grown in the lowlands if irrigated during the establishment phase.
We will look at some of the evergreen trees that grow in NM and thrive in any of our New Mexico hardiness zones.
15 Evergreen Trees That Grow and Thrive in New Mexico
Pine Trees That Will Grow in New Mexico
1. Pinyon Pine – Pinus edulis
They are native to New Mexico, growing naturally in the semi-arid foothills at elevations of 4,000 – 7,000 feet.
Pinyon Pines are drought- and cold-tolerant and can be grown almost anywhere in NM except in the highest northern mountains. It could even be grown in the southern lowlands if given occasional irrigation during extended droughts to prevent leaf drop.
In USDA Zone 9, Pinyon Pine should be given permanent afternoon shade, while elsewhere, it should only be planted in full sun.
Pinyon Pine is best grown in dry, well-drained soil that is low in organic matter and has a neutral to alkaline pH. To fertilize, simply apply a topdressing of compost late in winter.
You can also learn to identify the beautiful Pinyon Pine in its natural habitat.
Other Common Names: Piñon Pine, Two Needle Pinyon Pine, Rocky Mountain Piñon, Nut Pine, Rocky Mountain Pinyon Pine, and Colorado Pinyon
USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 8 (9 with afternoon shade)
Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 30 ft (to 70 ft) tall, 15 – 30 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen is released from cones in spring; seed cones and pine nuts mature in early fall in the second or third year, depending on conditions
2. Ponderosa Pine – Pinus ponderosa
Ponderosa Pine is a tall, impressive pine with a broadly rounded crown, distinctive cross-checked red and black bark, and long, graceful needle-like leaves.
They are also native trees in New Mexico, where they like to grow naturally higher in the foothills or low in the mountains where the air is still on the dry side.
Ponderosa Pines also grow well in most areas of the southern lowlands (up to USDA Zone 8), making excellent shade trees. Even though they are quite drought-tolerant, they may require occasional irrigation in the most arid areas if they look stressed during extended summer droughts.
These trees grow best in full sun and deep, moist, well-drained soil but will also tolerate dry, alkaline soils, winds, and drought but will not tolerate shade or humidity.
If you like to hike in the mountains, why not learn to identify Ponderosa Pine in its natural habitat?
Other Common Names: Western Yellow Pine, Bull Pine, Black Jack, Western Red Pine, Western Longleaf Pine, and Filipinus Pine
USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 8
Average Size at Maturity: 60 – 100 ft (to 236 ft) tall, 25 – 30 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen cones mature April – June; seed cones mature the next August or September (two-year cycle)
Available at: Nature Hills
3. Chihuahua White Pine – Pinus strobiformis
The Chihuahua White Pine is a gorgeous tree with a pyramidal crown and graceful blue-green needle-like leaves.
Chihuahua White Pine prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soils that are acidic to alkaline, performing best in the foothills or mountains of NM.
However, it could be grown at lower elevations if given irrigation during the dry season, although I would not recommend it above USDA Zone 8 in NM, where the extreme heat and low humidity could cause leaf drop.
Chihuahua White Pine would make a lovely accent tree or shade tree and is sometimes used as a Christmas tree. Native peoples used to eat the seeds of this pine tree as well.
You can also learn to identify the Chihuahua White Pine in its native mountain habitat.
Other Common Names: Mexican White Pine, Arizona White Pine, Southwestern White Pine, or in Spanish, pino blanco, pinabete, and pino enano
USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 9
Average Size at Maturity: 80 – 100 ft tall, 20 – 40 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen is released in spring; seed cones mature in September of the following year (two-year cycle)
4. Stone Pine – Pinus pinea
While the Stone Pine is not native to New Mexico like the pines above, this Mediterranean native is well-adapted to similar semi-arid conditions as our native pines.
They are unique-looking pines with umbrella-like crowns that have been cultivated for their edible seeds since prehistoric times.
Stone Pines are sometimes planted in NM for their fast growth. However, it should be understood that sufficient water is required to achieve that fast growth, and they may always require a bit more irrigation than our native pines in order to keep them looking healthy.
These trees will grow best in full sun in well-drained soil. It will tolerate heat and salty conditions but not clay or compacted soils, and it is not very cold-hardy (down to USDA Zone 7b).
Stone Pine is a popular ornamental that has won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
Other Common Names: Mediterranean Stone Pine, Italian Stone Pine, Roman Pine, Umbrella Pine, and Parasol Pine
USDA Growing Zones: 7b – 11
Average Size at Maturity: 35 – 80 ft (to 100 ft) tall, 35 – 60 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen cones mature in spring; seed cones mature in late summer two years later (three-year cycle)
Cypress Trees That Will Grow in New Mexico
5. Arizona Cypress – Hesperocyparis (Cupressus) arizonica
Arizona Cypress is a gorgeous fast-growing medium-sized evergreen conifer with unique, eye-catching blue-green leaves and stout upward-pointing branches.
Arizona Cypress will tolerate most soil types, including strongly alkaline, but it should not be grown in wet soils or in shade.
These hardy trees are often used as an accent or border tree in parks and residential areas throughout the southern half of NM for their easy growing conditions, minimal water use, and low maintenance.
Arizona Cypress would perform well almost anywhere in NM, excluding only the higher mountainous areas below USDA Zone 6.
You can also learn to identify the beautiful Arizona Cypress in its native environment.
Other Common Names: Roughbark Arizona Cypress, or in Spanish Sabino, Cedro, Ciprés, and Táscate
USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 9
Average Size at Maturity: 30 – 80 ft tall, 20 – 30 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen is released in spring; seed cones mature in late summer the following year (two-year cycle) but usually persist for several years
Available at: Nature Hills
6. Italian Cypress – Cupressus sempervirens
Italian Cypress is a popular ornamental evergreen for its unique narrowly cylindrical form. It can grow 70 ft tall but only 10 – 20 ft wide at most, making it popular as an accent tree next to buildings or as a tall hedge or border tree.
It is often used throughout southern NM for its tolerance to any soil condition, high heat, and drought. It is often grown alongside palm trees throughout southern NM for a nice contrast and a very tropical feel.
Since Italian Cypress prefers areas with relatively short and mild winters, it is unsuitable for the mountainous areas of NM.
These trees will perform best when grown in well-drained sandy loams in full sun and given moderate moisture. While it is fairly drought-tolerant, occasional watering may be necessary during extended droughts to prevent leaf drop.
For more information, you can also learn how to identify Italian Cypress.
Other Common Names: Mediterranean Cypress, Tuscan Cypress, Persian Cypress, and Pencil Pine
USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 10
Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 70 ft (to 100 ft) tall, 10 – 20 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen is released in spring; seed cones mature late the following summer (two-year cycle)
Juniper Trees to Grow in New Mexico
7. One Seed Juniper – Juniperus monosperma
One Seed Junipers are a widespread native juniper in NM, where one of its common names is New Mexico Juniper.
They are multi-stemmed shrubs or small trees with rounded to somewhat flattened crowns, fibrous bark, and medium-green leaves.
One Seed Juniper would make a lovely border shrub, privacy screen, or specimen tree anywhere in NM, excluding only the highest mountain ranges.
Being native to semi-arid NM, One Seed Junipers thrive in full sun to partial shade in any well-drained soil type including highly alkaline soils, making them a perfect choice for areas with more challenging soils.
They are also highly drought-tolerant once established and require no irrigation, even during extended droughts, making them highly suitable for xeriscaping.
You can also learn how to identify One Seed Juniper in its native environment, even collecting seeds or cuttings to propagate for yourself.
Other Common Names: Cherry-stone Juniper, Oneseed Juniper, New Mexico Juniper, West Texas Juniper, in Spanish Enebro, and Sabina
USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 8
Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 25 ft (to 59 ft) tall, 6 – 10 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Male trees release pollen in spring; berry-like seed cones mature on female trees in late summer or early fall of the same year.
8. Alligator Juniper – Juniperus deppeana
Alligator Juniper is my favorite juniper for its distinctive bark cracked into squarish plates, resembling the skin on an alligator’s back, and its bright green to very blue-green or silver-blue leaves.
This small to medium-sized single-stemmed NM native tree grows naturally in open woodlands on dry, arid foothills and low mountain slopes.
Alligator Junipers are suitable for growing in most of NM, excluding only the higher mountain areas with their longer winters.
These trees grow best in full sun in slightly acidic soil but are adaptable to any soil type, including highly alkaline, provided they are well-drained.
Once established, Alligator Junipers are suitable for xeriscaping. In fact, they shouldn’t be watered often, if at all, once established, since water will make them grow faster, weakening the wood and making them susceptible to wind damage.
You can also learn how to identify the lovely Alligator Junipers in their native environment.
Other Common Names: Checkerbark Juniper, Western Juniper, Oakbark Cedar, Thickbark Cedar, Mountain Cedar, and in Spanish, Tascate, Tacate, and Tlascal
USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 9
Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 40 ft (to 65 ft) tall, 20 – 25 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen is released in spring from male trees; berry-like seed cones mature on female trees the following year in late summer (two-year cycle)
9. Chinese Juniper – Juniperus chinensis
Chinese Juniper is a popular ornamental shrub to medium-sized tree with a pyramidal or irregular crown and medium-green leaves.
It is widely used in landscaping since it is easier to propagate and transplants better than some other junipers.
Chinese Juniper grows best grown in full sun in any dry or moist, acidic to moderately alkaline soils. They will also tolerate road salts and urban pollution and can be grown in cities.
Once established, they can handle some drought, but unlike our native junipers, they are unsuitable for xeriscaping. Moderate irrigation will be necessary during long, extended dry seasons to keep them looking healthy.
Chinese Junipers are very cold-hardy trees, making them suitable for growing at both high and low elevations throughout NM, where they can be planted in hedges, privacy screens, or as small specimen trees.
For more information, you can also learn how to identify Chinese Juniper.
Other Common Names: Sargent Juniper
USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 10
Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 60 ft (to 82 ft) tall, 15 – 20 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen cones mature in spring on male trees; berry-like seed cones mature in summer the following year (two-year cycle)
Cedar Trees to Grow in New Mexico
10. Eastern Red Cedar – Juniperus virginiana
Eastern Red Cedar is not actually a cedar. Despite its common name, it’s another juniper.
This small to medium-sized tree is native to eastern North America but is often grown ornamentally outside its native range.
Eastern Red Cedar is extremely cold-hardy and has low to moderate water usage.
They can be grown in full sun or partial shade in any well-drained soil that is acidic to moderately alkaline. They will do poorly in soils that are too wet or too alkaline.
Eastern Red Cedar could easily be grown in the foothills or high in the mountains of NM with little to no irrigation once established. They would also grow in the arid lowlands, provided the soil is not excessively alkaline, and they are given occasional irrigation during the long dry season.
For more information, you can also learn how to identify Eastern Red Cedar.
Other Common Names: Aromatic Cedar, Red Cedar, Virginian Juniper, Eastern Juniper, Red Juniper, Pencil Cedar, Carolina Cedar, Red Savin, and Baton Rouge
USDA Growing Zones: 2 – 9
Average Size at Maturity: 30 – 40 ft (to 65 ft) tall, 10 – 20 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen cones on male trees mature in spring; female trees produce berry-like seed cones in late summer of the same year
11. Atlas Cedar – Cedrus atlantica
Atlas Cedar is the most common true cedar used ornamentally worldwide, with numerous cultivars available.
They are medium to tall trees with aromatic dark green to blue-green needle-like leaves arranged in whorl-like clusters.
Atlas Cedars should only be planted in full sun as they will not tolerate shade.
They are only moderately drought-tolerant trees and would require occasional irrigation in the more arid southern parts of New Mexico.
Atlas Cedars are popular for their adaptability to different soils, tolerating moist or dry soils but not standing water, and they are not picky about pH, being able to grow in NM’s highly alkaline soils.
These trees are very similar to Deodar Cedar, which can also grow in NM, but the Deodar Cedar is slightly less cold-tolerant and prefers more acidic soils.
Other Common Names: Blue Atlas Cedar
USDA Growing Zones: 6 (5 with protection) – 9
Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 60 ft (to 100 ft) tall, 25 – 40 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen cones mature in the fall; seed cones mature in late summer or early fall two years later
Can You Grow Fir and Spruce Trees in New Mexico?
Yes, several species of spruce and firs are native to New Mexico. However, spruce and fir will only grow well in NM’s northern or southern mountains. They will not grow well in most of the lowlands with their high heat, low humidity, and alkaline soils.
12. White Fir – Abies concolor
White Fir is a popular ornamental tree that is often used as a Christmas tree for its nearly perfect pyramidal form.
This gorgeous New Mexico native tree grows naturally in all the major mountainous areas with enough elevation to give it the cold winters it needs, providing important wildlife values throughout its range.
White Fir is very cold-hardy and tolerates dry soils of most types, excluding strongly alkaline soils and heavy clay. They would perform best in slightly acidic, well-drained soils in full sun to partial shade.
These beautiful conifers would make lovely specimen or shade trees in any mountainous area in NM and in the northern foothills. However, the southern foothills may be too hot for them.
If you just want to hike in the mountains and enjoy it in its natural habitat, you can learn to identify White Fir.
Other Common Names: Concolor Fir, Colorado Fir, White Balsam, and Rocky Mountain White Fir.
USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 7
Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 150 ft (to 246 ft) tall, 40 – 60 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen cones release pollen in spring; seed cones mature and rapidly disintegrate in fall later that same year
Available at: Nature Hills
13. Blue Spruce – Picea pungens
Blue Spruce is a gorgeous tree with unique blue-green or blue-gray needle-like leaves that give the tree its common name.
The glaucous waxy coating that gives the leaves their color help provide moderate drought tolerance once established.
Blue Spruce is also native to the NM mountains, mostly in the north, but with some also found in the southern mountains.
It tolerates heat a bit better than White Fir but is still not considered heat-tolerant. It could be grown in the southern foothills and possibly some of the cooler parts of the southern lowlands if provided some irrigation and afternoon shade.
Blue Spruce is best grown in full sun, and it is adaptable to most soil types, including alkaline, acidic, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, well-drained, salty, and clay soils.
For more information, you can also learn how to identify Blue Spruce.
Other Common Names: Colorado Spruce, Colorado Blue Spruce, Green Spruce, and White Spruce
USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 8
Average Size at Maturity: 30 – 60 ft (to 164 ft) tall, 10 – 20 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen cones release pollen in the spring; seed cones mature in August of the same year
Other Evergreen Trees to Grow in New Mexico
When we think of evergreen trees, we typically think of coniferous trees with needle-like leaves. However, other trees can also be evergreen, particularly in the warmer climates of New Mexico with their mild winters.
14. Interior Live Oak – Quercus wislizeni
Interior Live Oak is not a New Mexico native oak but is recommended for NM for its ability to tolerate high heat, cold, drought, and alkaline soils.
This California native is often a shrubby species, but it will grow faster and larger if irrigated during the dry season. Otherwise, its water needs, once established, are quite low.
Interior Live Oaks are best grown in full sun to partial shade in most dry, well-drained soil types except strongly acidic, which is not a problem in NM.
These make great shade or accent trees for gardens and parks or can be grown as a hedge or privacy screen if kept shrub-sized by withholding watering.
Interior Live Oaks would grow well in the lowlands, foothills, and low mountains throughout NM.
Another option is the Scrub Live Oak, a native shrub-sized evergreen oak that will always remain as a shrub, even if irrigated.
Other Common Names: Chaparral Oak
USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 10
Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 50 ft (to 75 ft) tall, 6 – 50 ft (to 75 ft) spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Inconspicuous flowers emerge in spring; acorns mature in the fall of the following year (two-year cycle)
15. Littleleaf Mahogany – Cercocarpus intricatus
Littleleaf Mahogany is a hardy evergreen shrub native to the northwestern corner of New Mexico.
This shrub is sometimes considered a botanical variant of the taller tree-sized Curl Leaf Mahogany that is more restricted to mountainous habitats, whereas Littleleaf Mahogany tends to grow in drier, more desert-like climates.
Littleleaf Mahogany has small, narrow, leathery blue-green leaves and many small but dense branches that are covered with small reddish-yellow fragrant flowers in the spring.
These shrubs are both cold-hardy and heat-tolerant and can be grown in any climate zone in NM, including high in the mountains or low in the deserts.
The Littleleaf Mahogany is best grown in full sun or very light shade, and once established, watering is not necessary, making them very suitable for xeriscaping.
New Mexico soils are not a problem for these shrubs since they are highly tolerant of alkaline soils, calcium-rich soils, sand, and clay.
Other Common Names: Little Leaf Mountain Mahogany, Desert Mahogany, and Dwarf Mountain Mahogany.
USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 9
Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 8 ft tall, 4 – 6 ft spread
Flowering / Fruiting Season: Small reddish-yellow flowers appear in spring; feathery seeds are released in fall.
Guzman’s Garden Center recommends the Arizona Cypress as a windbreak or tall privacy screen. They note that this tree is very drought tolerant and a fast grower that thrives in the Southwest in USDA zones 6-9.
– Guzman’s Greenhouse: 270 Avenida de Mesilla, Las Cruces, NM 88005
Exceptional Evergreens That Will Grow and Thrive in New Mexico
There you have it, a wide range of evergreens that will grow and thrive throughout New Mexico, including many that are already native there.
Regardless of your USDA Zone, you can find an evergreen tree or shrub that will handle the cold, heat, drought, and alkaline soils that can make some trees challenging to grow in NM.
Junipers, cypress, pines, and other evergreens will all thrive in the lowlands and the mountains, while cedars can be a bit fussier and do best in some of the lowlands and foothills.
If you live high in the mountains, you can grow our beautiful native firs and spruces.
I hope you have enjoyed learning more about evergreens that grow well in New Mexico, and maybe this has inspired you to grow your own!
- 20 Native Trees of New Mexico (With Identifying Features)
- 12 Drought-Tolerant Trees for Your New Mexico Xeriscape
- 9 Best Fruit Trees for New Mexico (That Will Really Thrive)
- 10 Flowering Trees in New Mexico to Brighten Your Landscape
- 10 Shade Trees for New Mexico (Including Fast-Growing)
Lyrae grew up in the forests of BC, Canada, where she got a BSc. in Environmental Sciences.
Her whole life, she has loved studying plants, from the tiniest flowers to the most massive trees.
She is currently researching native plants of North America and spends her time traveling, hiking, documenting, and writing.
When not researching, she is homeschooling her brilliant autistic son, who travels with her and benefits from a unique hands-on education about the environment around him.