About Landscape Plants for Alaska

The goal of this website is to provide information about trees, shrubs, and vines known to be growing successfully in Alaska landscapes. It is intended to help you use the right plant in the right place and develop landscapes that fit into our native environs. The text is an extensive revision of the 1996 UAF Cooperative Extension publication, Landscape Plants for Alaska: A list of trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers for Alaskan Landscapes.


The botanical names used are based on Griffiths Royal Horticultural Society 1995 Index of Garden Plants. If a name has changed recently, the old botanical name is listed in parentheses following the new name. Additional common names are listed in parentheses following the most common name.


Estimate of the plants expected mature size in Alaska.


Characteristics that help identify the plant and its beneficial aspects.


Special cultural requirements or considerations related to the performance of the plant or its likelihood of success in Alaska.


Designated by the regions of Alaska where the plant is known, or expected, to survive. The regions are: Interior (INT), Northern (N), Southeast (SE), Southcentral (SC), and Western (W). Kodiak Island is included in the southeastern climatic region because winter conditions are similar. Southwestern Alaska is not included in this website because there is little information about landscape plant survival in that region.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones are also included and are based on coldest winter temperatures. The Hardiness Zone is helpful information but is not a perfectly reliable indicator of hardiness for plants in Alaska. Some plants, though cold tolerant, are not able to synchronize with northern day lengths, do not harden off before freezing temperatures occur, are not able to survive the long period of dormancy, or need warmer summer temperatures. A plant that survives in Zone 2 in another part of the world may not survive in Zone 2 in Alaska due to factors other than coldest winter temperature. For this reason, regional hardiness designations were assigned based on growers experiences and expectations.

USDA Hardiness Zones in Alaska: http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/alaska.html


Knowing the natural range of a plant can help you match it to a similar site in Alaska. Alaska native plants are noted in this section. Vierek and Little Trees and Shrubs of Alaska (2007 edition) contains distribution maps and other information on native trees, shrubs, and groundcovers.


Variations and cultivars of the species are included if known or expected to survive in Alaska's growing conditions. Following the conventions of Griffiths Royal horticultural Society 1995 Index of Garden Plants, these are listed as a cultivated variety (Rubra), a variety (var. pumilo), a subspecies (ssp. Nana), or a hybrid (x hunnewelliana). Many cultivars and varieties are not listed in this publication because their survivability in Alaska is unknown.


Many native species are, or have the potential to be, valuable landscape plants; however, before you consider digging a plant from its natural environment, learn about its status, growing requirements, and natural distribution. Plants may not survive the damage to their root system that digging causes without proper preparation and transplanting practices. Native plants often have very specific soil requirements that are difficult to duplicate in the landscape. Because of this, collecting seeds or cuttings is often more successful than digging a wild-grown plant.

Surrounding vegetation is often damaged when plants are dug from the wild. Always refill the hole and restore the site as much as possible to reduce the disturbance to the surrounding soil and plants. The best places to collect plants are in areas where planned construction will destroy the natural plant community. Always get permission from the landowner before entering public or private land for plant collecting. Most public landowners require a permit. Do not disturb a native plant that is rare or has a limited range. For information on native plants and their status and distribution, visit:

• Guidelines for Commercial Harvesting of Non-Timber Forest Products on State Lands, http://dnr.alaska.gov/ag/pmc_NTFP.htm (techniques for success harvesting and transplanting)
• Alaska Native Heritage Program, http://aknhp.uaa.alaska.edu/Default.htm
• U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, http://alaska.fws.gov/
• Alaska Native Plant Association, http://aknps.org/
• USDA Plants Database, http://plants.usda.gov/index.html
• USDA 2012 PLant Hardiness Zone Map, http://plants.usda.gov/index.html


In the United States, economic losses caused by invasive species total many billions of dollars annually. Help Alaska avoid this economic and ecological loss by preventing the introduction and spread of invasives. When selecting ornamental trees and shrubs for your landscape, select species that are not invasive in your area. Be aware that nonnative invasive plants can be imported in the soil of container-grown ornamentals. Alert nursery professionals if invasive plants or seeds are present in plants you purchase.

To learn more about invasive plants please visit the Alaska Natural Heritage Programs weed ranking project at: http://akweeds.uaa.alaska.edu/akweeds_ranking_page.htm.


This website is a joint project between the Alaska Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Service, and the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources Community Forestry Program.

• American Society of Landscape Architects Alaska Chapter members Ed Leonetti, Kevin Donier, Nancy Casey, and Sarah Keown.
• UAF Alaska Cooperative Extension Horticulture Specialist Julie Riley and Susan Bybee.
• Patricia Joyner, Ed Buyarski, Debbie Hinchey, Pat Holloway, Merrill Jensen, Christopher Mertl, Mel Monsen, and Stephen Nickel reviewed the plant list and generously shared their plant knowledge and Alaskan experience.
• Funding for the website came from the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Agriculture and Division of Forestry.
• Website design by SPOON FROG graphics


If you can document long term success of a tree, shrub, or vine not included on this site, please submit information regarding the plant, its location, years of survival, and a photo if possible. If you want to submit images for inclusion on the site, please note that the images must be in JPEG format and cannot exceed 550 kb and the dimensions must be 1000 x 1000 (portrait or landscape).

For information about this website, please contact Ed Leonetti at: leonetti@coffman.com

Landscape Plants for Alaska

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