Choices for plant life may be inhibited by the desert’s hot temperatures, but don’t think that you don’t have options. You can make your yard thrive in the toughest conditions with the right plant life.
Picking plants that are drought and heat resistant is key to ensuring the longevity of your garden. With Phoenix being in the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9b-10b, you'll want to first understant what types of plants do well in these zones to make gardening easy on yourself and the plants chosen. Here are three native plant types and specific suggestions for easy gardening in Phoenix.
There are many different kinds of cacti to choose from for your garden, including blooming cacti. Depending on what you’re going for, and how much work you want to put in, cacti might be the perfect fit for you. You can pick such options as Beavertail Prickly Pear, which grows fairly low to the ground and has bright pink flowers.
For something significantly taller, you could go with the Organ Pipe. It can grow ten feet tall with very little outside input. In fact, most cacti require very little effort to keep alive.
Another great native cacti to use in your garden is Parry’s Agave (pictured in the image above). It looks very similar to an artichoke with some extra thorns on the side. Cacti and succulants alike don't require much maintenance and can survive with minimal watering.
Just because you’re in the desert doesn’t mean you can’t make your yard bright and colorful with some flowers. There are plenty of types to pick from in a variety of colors. Parry’s Penstemon grows up to two feet tall and has flowers that bloom all along the stem of the plant. Weeping Dalea is a shrub with lovely violet flowers. Little-leaf Cordia is also a shrub that grows in a similar shape to Weeping Dalea, with flowers as white as winter snow.
You can also consider growing roses, but these require more care than the previous types of flower. Making sure it is adequately watered and has access to shade is important to their survival, but they can survive in the desert.
A personal favorite is the Baja Fairy Duster, in part to its hilarious name. Another bush shaped plant, the flowers range from a deep red to a light pink. When the flowers bloom, they grow in a similar appearance to a firework.
Now that we’ve covered the plants that stay relatively low to the ground, let’s move on to the towering behemoths themselves. Trees may take a long time to grow, but the results are always satisfying. Ironwood trees grow up to 25 feet tall, though it takes them many years to get there. Their bark is covered in thorns, so make sure not to let pets or young children play too close.
Velvet Mesquite has no thorns to speak of, and grows significantly faster than the Ironwood trees. They grow to the same height as Ironwoods, though their branches are more twisted and the bark is much darker. Their flowers are a dazzling yellow color, a nice color addition to any yard. The Palo Blanco tree looks like a cross between a Shedding Dogwood tree and a Weeping Willow. It's off white bark sheds year round. The branches of a Palo Blanco tree droop in a very similar fashion to the Weeping Willow trees.
Before you decide what plants to get, it’s important to consider the vision for your yard as a whole. Choosing whether you want lots of shade, lots of flowers, or few plants at all will help lead you in your desired direction. While there are many more plants to pick from, this list should help you get on the right track.
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