Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Creosote Bush
Larrea tridentata

Family: Zygophyllaceae
Genus: Larrea (LAR-ree-uh) (Info)
Species: tridentata (try-den-TAY-ta) (Info)

9 members have or want this plant for trade.


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By Xenomorf
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There are a total of 25 photos.
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8 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive gardengirl88 On Jun 2, 2010, gardengirl88 from Tucson, AZ wrote:

What a wonderful plant to have just below an open bedroom window. After a rain it gives off the most wonderful clean desert rain scent. I bought 3 at a plant sale. One died but the others are doing great. I now have 5. I have looked for babies (only about 1-2 inches tall)and have had great success transplanting. I dig the new hole the size of one shovelful then dig up the baby with the same shovelful and carry it to the new hole. Be very gentle with the placement. Also I point it in the same direction it was growing. I water frequently but sparingly for the first few months and gradually taper off. I want to try growing from seed. Time will tell...

Positive Juttah On Apr 27, 2010, Juttah from Tucson, AZ (Zone 8a) wrote:

Every desert garden should have at least one of these. Regular but shallow watering during the spring and summer, plus a little fertilizer, gives you a beautiful, rugged bush that bears little resemblance to the scraggly half-dead creosote bushes you see growing wild.

I've had bad luck with nursery-grown stock (5 out of 6 died within months) and I tried growing them from seed with little success. The best method by far is to dig up wild babies after a rain and transplant them in early spring. Water them daily with 1 Tbsp. of water, increasing to 2-3 Tbsp. of water during the hot summer months, plus a little Miracle-Gro now and then.

I did this with 8 plants 3 years ago and all are thriving. Now established, they still get 1/4 to 1/2 can of water once a week, if it hasn't rained, to keep them looking lush. After 3 years, two of them are about 4 feet tall and as wide, and they are thick with flowers and of course they smell wonderful after a rain!

Positive uglysteve On Nov 9, 2009, uglysteve from Apache Junction, AZ wrote:

Grows wild in my yard, I must have at least 50 of them. No watering needed(7 in. of annual rain), but looks better with occasional water. A very tough and long lived plant. Smells good. Grows well in fast draining sandy soil. Grows wild along with buckhorn cholla, desert broom, saguaro, hedgehog cactus, desert senna, mesquite, palo verti, desert ironwood, ect...

Positive peachespickett On Mar 18, 2008, peachespickett from Huntington, AR wrote:

Grew a creosote from seed after much trial-and-error, has been planted in desert bed in Western Arkansas for a year (right after germination), survived record rain with freezing rain and snow, starting to grow again as weather warms. Will survive outside desert if given excellent drainage. Mine is planted in two-foot deep bed on slope, in 50% sand, 50% gravel, would probably do even better with more gravel and more large rocks in mix.

Neutral Xenomorf On Nov 19, 2006, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

A very numerous and drought tolerant bush. I've seen this growing in the wild in the Phoenix surrounding desert, Tonto Basin, AZ; Oro Valley, AZ; Oracle Junction, AZ; & on the 'El Camino Del Diablo Trail' (Devils' Highway) that runs between Ajo and Wellton in Arizona.

Positive Judy81350 On Jun 10, 2005, Judy81350 from Queen Creek, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

Very hardy and needs very little care. Blooms early spring and is loaded with little yellow flowers. I have one that is about 7 1/2 feet tall. Other plants will die if planted to close to one. They have an oily smell to them.

Positive lantanalover On Apr 27, 2005, lantanalover from Queen Creek, AZ (Zone 10a) wrote:

I had read that to grow from seeds, put seeds in a pan/pot, cover with boiling water and let sit overnight.

They smell great after a rain and are beautiful when fully bloomed out in the spring.

Positive rbhunter On Jan 12, 2005, rbhunter from Hebron, MD wrote:

Seed germination is inhibited by light. Grows well in sandy soil with lime. An extremely drought-hardy desert plant common in the SW US and Mexico, with close relatives in Argentina's and Chile's deserts. It is chemically complex, with some interest for anti-cancer and anti-HIV compounds.

Positive xenia On Oct 7, 2004, xenia from Pinon Hills, CA wrote:

Also grows in the California High Desert. I have been unsuccessfull in growing it from seed and cutting but, I was able to transplant small ones from one area to another with 50/50 survival rate, they have a very delicate root system, however it is a very hearty plant once established. When they are trimmed back they tend to fill out and create a very large,full and lush evergreen bush, requiring little water and care. It makes for terrific windbreak and outdoor pet shade. It is a beautiful native plant, drought resistant, tolerant of heat and high winds. Here I am at 4000' elevation and our winters get to 10 degrees and sometimes into the single digits, we have little rain,moderate snow,and summers reaching 115 degrees.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Ajo, Arizona
Apache Junction, Arizona
Catalina, Arizona
Hereford, Arizona
Peridot, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports)
Queen Creek, Arizona
Salome, Arizona
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Tonto Basin, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona (3 reports)
Wellton, Arizona
Huntington, Arkansas
Barstow, California
Pinon Hills, California
North Las Vegas, Nevada
Pahrump, Nevada
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Elephant Butte, New Mexico
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Austin, Texas
El Paso, Texas
Terlingua, Texas

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