What NOT to buy and plant

tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)March 12, 2005

OK, everyone; this is the time of year when we succumb to the beauties of imported plants at the nurseries, including those that know better. Gem1 has already bought a foxglove and heaven knows who else has taken home some certain-to-die-in-the-heat plant. In the interest of saving money and sanity, what are the plants you would advise *against* buying and planting?

I'll start with delphiniums and azaleas. (If you have a mass of these in bloom, please don't tell me; I feel inadequate enough as is.) ;-)

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TucsonJen(9a AZ)

I'm branching out from my ususal hardy cactus and succulents and am *attempting* a lusher look in my courtyard. I imagine that I'll see lots of my choices listed here in this thread. Ack!

My mistakes... so far... have always involved not protecting plants from ground squirrels, rabbits, and javelina. I've lost Asparagus Cactus (Austrocylindropuntia subulata), Cholla (unidentified), Purple Hearts (Tradescantia pallida), Klein's Pencil Cholla (Cylindropuntia kleiniae), Santa Rita Prickly Pear (Opuntia violacea var. santa-rita), Spanish Bayonet (Yucca aloifolia), Desert Spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri), and two beautiful Dyckia. The Dyckia and the Asparagus Cactus I have not replaced but the others have come back from the brink of death now that I spray around them. I spray around many of my plants (not around Euphorbias or well-established things) once a month to deter the critters. The spray reeks for a day or two and I take a long shower after I use it, lol!

I've got 89(!) plants waiting for me to put them in the ground plus maybe another 20 in "permanent" pots getting more shade protection under the front porch. Almost all are new-to-me and are worrisome-ly green. Heck, these things have leaves! I think in about 6 months I will be something of an expert in what doesn't survive a dry, blistering zone 9a! Until then... I'll look here to see what to coddle!


    Bookmark   March 12, 2005 at 6:03PM
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AzDesertRat(AZ 8b Sunset 12)

I would not buy camelias or azeleas unless I had a good spot for them. It needs to be a very unique area (filtered morning shade, near a fountain or waterfall and heavily amended soil), otherwise I might as well donate the money I spent on them to some other cause.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2005 at 6:57PM
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>Purple Hearts (Tradescantia pallida)

Love these. I have a few bunches in my most shady spots, they are doing great! But then we don't have squirrels and such here.

But I agree tom - I have seen stores selling prim rose, azaleas, and foxglove and thought 'what could they be thinking?' (oh, money, right). I will sometimes buy something that I can't live without, but keep it inside with good light and water (have a goldfish plant that is still thriving after six years). But I am careful what I buy, and have trained dear husband to bring home plants that will not wilt the moment he opens the car door...

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 3:42AM
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Gardenias anytype. I seriously think that I should buy a spray with the gardenia smell and spray some white flowers with it.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 9:31AM
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judy_b(AZ zone 9)

Usha, that cracks me up! :-) But what a good idea...just give those beautiful non-smellers the smell we want. About gardenia, their reluctance to bloom for me is one reason I grow so much jasmine, as it has a similar fragrance, don't you think?

Soap and candle makers use fragrance oils for a wonderful gardenia fragrance. I have a friend who makes delightful gardenia soap, smells very like the real thing. I have an acquaintance that manages to get a gardenia to flower. It is planted under a pine tree, so that might be the key - acidic shade?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 1:03PM
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I agree with you on azaleas and camelias. I am from the Willamette Valley in Oregon where both of them grow profusely and very well so I can't imagine either of them doing well in AZ. Don't tell me about gardenias! I just planted one in a large pot because my jasmine bit the dust. Oh well, the experiments continue.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 5:25PM
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AzDesertRat(AZ 8b Sunset 12)

Gardenias do fine here. They just need some good soil and protection from the wind and sun here. I am 3 for 4 here with them. Azeleas and camelias are another story. I don't know why anyone would even bother growing them here, unless they wanted to pay for some expensive annnuals..

What I would still love to have out here is a Japanese Maple. I think they could grow if given the right microclimate, but to get a pseudo mature one will run over $150. Mistakes with azeleas, camelias or other plants may be only a $50 hit. One with a Japanese Maple would hurt the pocket book a little more.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 6:30PM
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I have 3 gardenias. 1 made it through the summer just fine and has buds on it. My "First Love" "tree" gardenia is new as is my Mystery. Containers make it easier to grow them here in the desert I think since it is easier to control the drainage/acidity/ and protect them from too much sun. I will be putting the Mystery in the ground though.I can't wait untill the "First Love" blooms because its buds are enormous. The only problem I had with the Veichii was some leaf tip burn, which probably resulted from not flooding out the salt buildup.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 11:07PM
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tuliplover(z9 AZ)

What are some good perenials for the Phoenix area? I'm getting ready to plant and don't want to spend time and money on something that doesn't do well here. What about Begonias?? I know it is an annual but heard they bloom all year here?? Also, what about Vinca? Again I hear they are like a perenial here. I didn't see any at the store the other day. Are they not available right now or do I just need to look elsewhere? Also, any thoughts on Sage? Gazania? Flax? Any other suggestions would be welcome. I'm looking to have a mixture of perenials....some that bloom in summer and some that bloom in winter.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2005 at 8:57AM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Tuliplover, you might want to start your questions as a new thread; if people are coming to this one about what not to plant, you probably won't get the answers you're looking for!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2005 at 9:30AM
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You won't see Vinca quite yet, its not warm enough,besides I think that is an annual. Begonias do great in the shade, but again, I don't think of them as perenials.

Off the top of my head, thinking about the perenials in my garden:

Bloom in summer:
Mexican Bird of Paradise
Bouganvilla (sp, sorry)
Ice plant (hearts and flowers)

Bloom in winter:
Emu bush
(I am sure there are more but my mind is blanking. I tend to have a ton of annuals during this time)

Bloom in spring:
Brittle Bush
Sweet Broom
Bush morning glories

I think there are some links on the home page here that will direct you to other lists. You can also contact the Phx Botannical Garden for more info (better yet, this is the time of year to go!)

    Bookmark   March 14, 2005 at 9:36AM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Hey, I was sure there were more plants than these on the NOT-to-plant list! I'm with annoysmom about the gardenia and I'm hoping ADR and DH are right. Usha, be brave and give one a try. We can all compare notes at the end of summer. How about a prize to the survivor? That would be one of us, not the plant. ;O)

ADR, I would love to have a yard full of Japanese maples. Some time back, Martha (yes, *that* Martha) featured these beautiful trees in her magazine. I immediately wanted to move to a climate where they would grow. And I can't think of a better reason to relocate - unless of course it might be lilacs, delphiniums, foxgloves, and .... well, the list is looooong.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2005 at 12:32PM
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sirjonny(8 S.Scottsdale)

Don't plant poppies and harvest heroin. Sherrif Joe doesn't like that particular crop, despite what the nurseries tell & sell you.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2005 at 5:27PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Tsk tsk, Jonny. Those types of poppies just don't do that well here....


    Bookmark   March 14, 2005 at 6:00PM
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beaustephenson(9b Phoenix, AZ)

What not to plant?? Queen Palms!


    Bookmark   March 14, 2005 at 6:11PM
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Tomatofreak....I had a beautiful Japanese red maple in my front yard in Oregon..it was planted on a small berm was trained so the leaves almost touched the ground. We also grew terrific lilacs and daphne...so fragrant. But that's in the past cause we now love the sun in the Valley of the Sun!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2005 at 8:07PM
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mokikat(z9 FL)

The first plant that I thought of for invasiveness in the
ground is spearmint. I'll never buy it and plant it in the ground again.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2005 at 10:46PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Actually, PC, a friend of mine grew the most beautiful poppies of *that type* a few years ago. They were sooooo gorgeous.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2005 at 10:47PM
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GardenHits(9a PHOENIX)

I have a bunch of "those poppies" in my front yard. And I live about 15 houses from a police station. Never had a problem. Even when I am out their gleaning them for seeds for next year. Either way they are just to pretty and are not illegal.

As to the gardenia. If you want the fragrance without the fuss. Plant a calamondin citrus. Dwarf or regular. Theyt are ornamental and the blooms (blooms a good part of the year) smell just like gardenias. The regukar (non dwarf) grow in a column instead of bushing out. so a row of them would be a great hedge. The dwarfs grow more bushier than vertical.

As to what NOT TO PLANT.

bermuda grass!!! I cannot stand the stuff. My neighbors have it and it sprouts up all over my yard. ugh

Pampas Grass, its too invasive and if you have never had to cut some back you were lucky, it cuts like razors, most of the time cutting too quick to realize what is happening.

As to WHAT NOT TO DO. to plants
DO NOT cut your mulberry plants back to a stub, just because everyone else is doing it!

Do NOT USE A SOIL STERILIZER EVBEN FOR A GRAVED DRIVEWAY. It may take awhile but eventually the chemical will leach out into areas you do not want it in and kill everything.

DO NOT USE a weed & feed type grass fertilizer after march. Once it gets to be 90 degrees the weed part of weed and feed will turn into a gas and the gas will kill plants that are in the area like bushes, etc


    Bookmark   April 5, 2005 at 10:16PM
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Oh contrar.

Vincas do great here and are perrenial. I've had the same patch in the ground for years. They look sickly in Winter but come back every year when it heats up. They look awesome all Summer and love full sun. I have the purple ones.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2005 at 7:09PM
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ValDan(z9 Arizoma dest)

There are some things which the average gardener will not be able to grow here. Of course, some of these plants can be grown by a few people, but I like to think of it more as a miracle that the plants grow. There are so many plants that grow here in the Phx area, why waste your time and money on plants that are stubborn about growing in the Phx area. Lilacs don't normally grow here (I have seen several, tho), hosta (I saw one growing in Scottsdale on an Iris Tour years ago), Mary Irish says agapanthus and Stella D/Oro daylily won't grow here(I grew the daylily for 5 years and the plant never increased in size), Oriental poppy and peony (I have a friend that had a tree peony bloom a couple of weeks ago - I think she said the plant was 5 years old and it was about 18" hi). The opium poppy does grow here (Papaver somniferum). It has a big ruffled flower, greenish=grayish foliage, but the flower is very short-lived. The Shirley poppy lasts a lot longer - it also volunteers and comes back every fall. The flowers are mainly pink and red shades, but it cross-breeds and you will end up with a lot of different varieties.
My Mom grew goldenrod (solidago) and goldenglow in Colorado. I finally found a solidago plant in Baker's Nursery last spring. My Mom's grew about 6' high, this one was lucky if it was 18". I had tried seeds a couple years before that, but they never germinated. I have decided to give up on it and concentrate on something that I know does well here. The Maricopa County Extension Service puts out about 100 Gardening Bulletins. Tomorrow I will look for my list and give you the number of the Bulletin thatgives the names of about 100 perennials and annuals that will grow here in Phx.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 2:34AM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

OMG, don't tell my neighbor about *anyone* growing a peony! She'd break her bank giving that a try. We have a running joke about which one of us will kill the most plants each summer, but lilacs and peonies? Please, no way! And even though I see the nurseries filled with gorgeous foxgloves, delphiniums and dahlias, I'm passing on those, too. Look forward to that list, Val. Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 12:45PM
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GardenHits(9a PHOENIX)

I actually had a lilac bush in my last house. It did ok, if I babied it. But It grew nothing like they do back east

    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 12:50PM
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AzDesertRat(AZ 8b Sunset 12)

There are still a lot of things I believe will grow here given the proper microclimate, contrary to what others may believe. The 3 biggest factors in why things don't grow well here are heat, soil, and humidity. Planting a few things in filtered shade in heavily amended areas near a water feature such as a fountain or waterfall will go a long way in ensuring that some plants will survive.

However, the "average" gardener in most cases will not have suitable areas to grow a lot of these plants. By attempting to grow these plants repeatedly without having a suitable microclimate, the average gardener is led to believe that these plants will not survive here. For example, many on this forum have not had much success growing gardenias, and they are led to believe that these plants won't grown here.

There are plants that grow here much easier than others. If one does not have the proper microclimate in their backyard or does not want to take the effort to make the conditions in their backyard much more amiable to the plants they are trying to grow, they are much better off growing something else that doesn't need as much care. There are lots of lists of plants on what grow here easily.

My motto about gardening is "Never say Never" (almost all things anyway). If the plants need a certain amount of chill hours, there is not much I can do about that. However, with everything else, given the proper conditions, I think about anything can be grown out here. All you have to do is to have the right attitude towards what you are growing.

My 2 cents on it anyway.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 2:38PM
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I discourage others from growing red hot pokers. Planted one in the ground and nursed it for years and it never took off. Maybe in a raised garden, but in that case its not really growing in the soil.

Also discourage avocados and pineapple guavas. Hard to keep alive and good luck if you ever get fruit. Evidently there are some miracles around town but you have a 90% chance of failure with these.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 4:24PM
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Easygoing(Sunset zone 13)

Oh now you tell me! I just planted two shrub pineapple guaves and a Standard pineable quava. *sigh*. Good think I saved the receipts. I have a one year warranty :) So far they are doing very, very well. But if it's the heat that kills them, then it won't be long ;) Thaks for the heads up bethhawthorne :)


    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 4:48PM
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winter_plumage_AZ(Sonoran Desert)

I have two pineapple guavas that have been in the ground for about a year. The advice I received on this forum was to plant in full sun; however, their leaves burn in summer and I'd recommend no afternoon sun in summer.

I know several people with healthy gardenias and one person with healthy camelias. Personally, I don't find those plants (along with rosebushes) attractive--but then again, I can't smell :(

I would advise not planting New Zealand/Australian tea trees. (I just saw them at HD, too.) I just saw the most *beautiful* fuchsias at 7th St. & Bell Target--NO! I watched my big beautiful one from HD die a slow painful death last summer :(

I have determined the steps necessary for *successful* gardening:

  1. Plant a bunch of stuff.
  2. When you finally have a good balance of shade/sun, your new plants will do fine! lol
    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 12:51AM
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Easygoing(Sunset zone 13)

That was the first thing I planted when I moved into my new home were the trees. Just now I'm starting to get some wonderful shade spots, were I can plant things, that I never could have planted there before, without them backing. Especially in the back yard, which was all rock and dirt when I bought the place. Use to, you couldn't tell any difference, no matter where you were in my garden. Now, when you walk from the front yard into the back yard, there is generally a 5 to 10 degree temperature drop. It is fun trying to create micro-climates such as this.

I don't think when I did plant the trees, I was thinking micro-climates, I had never gardened before in my life, when I bought this house 13 years ago. I guess I was just luckie at that time.

I did plant a garden for fragrance and color though, as I love smelling things. Almost all my trees, except for the mulberry, which I didn't plant, it was already there, bloom.

I really shot for fragrance in the garden when selecting all my roses. But some are not as fragrant as the advertisement, as one is lead to believe. Aroma's are very soothing to my soul and spirit. Hmmmm, wonder what I did in my previous life. ;)

I was chatting with a friend once, as we strolled through the garden. I told her gardening was my stress relief, a place to get away from the fast paced world. She replied back "damn your sressed out!". Hehehe...we chuckled, and then grabbed the pint baskets of strawberries and made us some daquiri's. It was a very relaxing evening in the garden.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 10:54AM
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eileenaz(9, Sunset 12)

Don't you just love this thread? I have-

fruiting pineapple guavas and queen palms that have survived through horrible neglect (not mine)

seen vincas growing wild in yards and even in alleys

a sister-in-law here in Tucson that can grow the darndest ranunculus & camellias you ever saw, right out of the ground

DesertRat has a good and wise philosophy, I would only add "when in doubt, don't if you can't stand the thought of bad results".   
Sunset Magazine says that Stella d'oro daylilies are perfect for southern AZ, by the way. 
    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 11:16AM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

LOL, Eileen, I visited 3 nurseries yesterday and got two opposite opinions, so I guess bravery is one characteristic needed for gardening here. I'm only brave in small doses, though; I ain't gonna spend $129.00 for the huge camelia I saw at Target yesterday, but I *might* spend $15 for a very small one. Might....

Walmart has mangoes and I do want one, but haven't been brave enough yet to buy it. Does anyone have one of these? They also had avocado, guava and something else exotic - I forget what.

Ah, Winter, guess what I have sitting in a pot waiting to be planted? That's right, a tea tree. Oh, well. Love your advice about planting a lot. I was just too doggone busy to do that when we moved here; now I'm trying to make up for lost time. Drat.

Easy, would you plant strawberries now? I see these beautiful plants and so want them, but they're another species I tried once and failed with. What do they want?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 11:34AM
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AzDesertRat(AZ 8b Sunset 12)

I would only add "when in doubt, don't if you can't stand the thought of bad results".

Thanks for the compliment Eileen. Let me add a couple of more quotes which go along with this.

One of my favorites "Fear of failure must never be a reason not to try something.

And --Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.--Henry Ford


We seem to gain wisdom more readily through our failures than through our successes. We always think of failure as the antithesis of success, but it isn't. Success often lies just the other side of failure.
---Leo F. Buscaglia

Ok, I am full of it today (quotes anyway). Take gardening for what it really is, an enjoyable pasttime where we try to make things grow in a sometimes inhospitable climate and try to create our little pieces of heaven. If you like something, plant it. Just try to give it a place where it will have its most favorable conditions. Like I said before, the 3 biggest reason why things don't grow here and heat, humidity and soil. So don't go out and by a fern and stick it out in a gravel frontyard on a western exposure and expect it to live-and then come out and complain that ferns don't grow here.

Above all, have fun. Perceverence will be rewarded in the end--- eventually.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 12:21PM
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bubba33(Phoenix, Az)

someone posted that they would not plant queen palms. As long as you have good soil they will grow wonderful out here! When I lived in Gilbert, we had clay soil and the queen palms did not look that great. I knew someone who spent $100 a month to have thier palms injected with fertilizer and it worked a little better. I saw 2 homes with beautiful palms and the ownres told me they had better soil brought in. Out in Queen Creek the queen palms look very nice all because of the soil.Dont ever give up!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 5:38PM
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Haji_Warf(z8 SE Arizona)

Have 2 camellias on the north side of the house. Amended the soil vigorously to acidify as much as possible. Using fertilizer designed for camellias.

Planted last fall. So far, no signs of stress, such as yellowing on leaf margins, etc. However, plants are no bigger than when put in, but it's still early...

    Bookmark   April 9, 2005 at 8:00AM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Berylline, my neighbor *never* researches a plant; she just buys them and sticks them in the ground wherever the notion strikes. She planted camellias on the north side of her house up against the wall and they grew and *bloomed*! I think one died, but because the dog insisted on sleeping on it. You just never know; sometimes ignorance is a good thing. If I bought that plant and did all the right things, it would probably die just to spite me. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2005 at 11:18AM
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eileenaz(9, Sunset 12)

DesertRat, I COULDN'T AGREE WITH YOU MORE, (oops- pesky caps lock, not shouting at you) but if you've ever listened to those obnoxious types who canNOT abide being wrong about anything- even though they don't know their elbows from their arses about gardening or houseplants or anything else having to do with plants or landscaping- bellow and complain about defective plants and stupid local weather and idiotic salespeople- anything but blame their own ignorance because they coudldn't be bothered to find out the basics like how to water what or where to plant something and so forth, well, you know where I'm coming from.

*Sound of deep inhaling here*

Your quotes are great!

Tomatofreak, you're too right- you gotta be brave here, too!
Why to heck don't my Walmarts and Targets here have mangoes and avocados? Cowards, all of them!
Last year I planted a bunch of honey mango seeds that all came up, all but one died from various causes, I guess, and that one succumbed to the cold (or other accidental mistreatment), so I'm waiting for honey (aka champagne) mango season to start. Gonna try it again. Honey mangoes are the best things on earth and it's the cheapest way to try them out since I have the seeds anyway, eh? I'm told they're self-fruiting, too, and have my fingers crossed that it's true, though I'm not likely to be THERE for quite a long time!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2005 at 11:19AM
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sonotaps(Sunset Z13, Phx)

Ditto DesertRat and EileenAZ!

You can grow plenty of things here if you PLAN properly. I have all sorts of wacky stuff growing 'outside the box' and they are doing great.

'CAN'T never could do anything.'

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 5:15PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Sonotaps, I agree "CAN'T never could do anything," but "won't" is sometimes a stopper. How many times have you seen and heard the mantra, "Bloom where you are planted." It's a happy little homily, but if taken literally, it doesn't work for a sahuaro in Seattle or a Sequoia in Sonora. For most of us, challenges of the extreme are best left to those who have a LOT of expertise. I'd be so glad just to have my roses bloom and my tomato plants actually produce something edible! BTW, would you tell us about some of your "wacky stuff?" It never hurts to dream. ;o)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 7:07PM
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I don't think the point of this forum is to say that there is anything that will not grow. Create a completely artificial environment and you can grow anything. I've seen penguins at the zoo, but that doesn't mean they would survive if we released them into the desert. However, I do think it is very useful for people to know what is exceptionally difficult to grow. That way they know what they are getting into before putting down their money.

I think its useful to ask a number of questions.

1) Will it go straight into the soil and grow well. Mixing in some composit to get it started doesn't totally disqualify this question. Constantly adding ph changing chemicals to keep the plant alive does.

2) Does it have to be watered? Some plants can actually survive with little to no water at all. If it does need to be watered, how much.

3) Can it take full sun? Part sun?

4) Do temperatures over 100 kill it outright?

5) Do temperatures under freezing kill it? How far below freezing?

6) Does it look healthy in this climate?

7) Does it produce fruit/flowers in this climate?

Here is an example:

Queen palms:
Pass every single one of these criteria except for number 6. My neighbors have hundreds of them in my neighborhood and the vast majority of them, the majority of the time look like they are on deaths door. Why buy a queen palm when date palms do 100 times better here. Queen palms have been a wonderful business for some one, especially since they often need replacing.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 7:11PM
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sonotaps(Sunset Z13, Phx)

My 'wacky stuff'?

Just read my ID page and you'll see what I'm talking about. I don't profess to know everything but I'm doing something right, obviously. Much of my stuff is 'off-center' xeriscape specialty plants which makes sense in our environment. Other stuff is more speculative, but fun for me.

It's not like I have a 'giant bubble' (someone said 'completely artificial environment') over my house to create an ideal environment. That's absurd, counterintuitive, as well as counterproductive.

East walls and south walls can be your best friend in the desert. Planting large trees for dappled shade or western sun protection can also help. Mulching helps. Due diligence in terms of researching the cultural requirements of things you are interested in planting also helps.

There are limits to everything. 'Plenty of things' is not all-inclusive. To say or think that I believe otherwise is pure folly.

Someone, somewhere is gardening 'outside the box'and may have perhaps found success. Maybe it is just for the challenge, but regardless, if you want to plant something bad enough it just comes down to how much you want to work on it or not. I won't begrudge someone with some ingenuity or desire to try to plant more challenging things...

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 2:55PM
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ValDan(z9 Arizoma dest)

Publication AZ 1100 is titled "Flower Planting Guide for the Low Desert". It lists over 100 flowers that will grow in the Phoenix area, their planting season (May to Sep), how much light they need, water, difficulty in growing, whether they attract hummingbirds and butterflies, whether it reseeds, if it is fragrant, etc.
If there is a plant that you really, really, really want to grow, buy 3 plants and plant them in 3 different locations in your yard. That way you will see if it likes one location better than others.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 9:13AM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Val, is this a publication from the Extension Service? It sounds incredibly detailed and informative.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 10:43AM
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ValDan(z9 Arizoma dest)

Tomatofreak - this is a publication from the Maricopa County Extension Service. Their Webpage is located at:

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 2:03PM
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winter_plumage_AZ(Sonoran Desert)

I know several people with healthy gardenias and one person with healthy camelias. Personally, I don't find those plants (along with rosebushes) attractive--but then again, I can't smell :(

Now that I know what a gardenia is, I meant *geraniums* up there in this thread! There. I feel better now :) Except for the fact that geraniums are everywhere which means that I only know one person with healthy gardenias unless I count *mine*. The fluffy flowers (I just made that up) aren't my thing and I'm still learning about those :)

    Bookmark   May 22, 2005 at 4:21AM
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To add to the list:

Coco palm (I'll leave it to those living in Hawaii)
Plumeria (seen some beautiful ones...mine's not one of them)

I am on the fence with pineapple guavas. The first one I had croaked in the pot. The second one is in the ground and has blooms but no fruit. I also use a brush to cross-polinate them. This is the first season so it may fruit next year.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 12:44PM
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racie212(z9 AZ)

I have no idea what some are saying about Queen Palms! They are everywhere in the East Valley! I live in Queen Creek, and we have 5 that my brother-in-law started from seed and are beautiful, plus one that we bought on "clearance" from a nursery for $20, and has grown at least 3ft since March, and looks very green and very healthy. My BIL around the corner has a dozen around his yard and pool, and are growing wonderfully! All we do is water ours 3x a week, with some fertilizer every few months, and that seems to work perfectly!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 4:38PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Queen Palms can do well in some areas, but in order for them to look good over a period of years (a young one isn't a good example) they need a pretty specific microclimate. There are a lot of spots in the metro area that get colder and warmer than others - your area is apparently fine for them.

I see waaayyyy too many of them that look pretty bad. When there's so many plants to choose from, why stick with one that is used over, and over, and over, and over .....>yawn!Kinda like yet another master-planned community, filled with lantana, oleander and bouganvillia.... woo hoo. Might as well just use rocks.

My .o2, and then some!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 9:59PM
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AzDesertRat(AZ 8b Sunset 12)

I think this is one of the greatest threads that we have ever had on this board. Every so often, it seems that someone goes back to it.

I am just wondering what other names will get attached to this list once it is all said and done. It seems we are getting more plants that people are trying to grow here, and we will soon hear about the successes and failures, of course ;-).

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 12:10AM
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We too have spent a lot of $$$ on plants that don't work. It has been very frustrating. So, we decided to made a ROCK GARDEN! :->

All rocks were chosen especially for this garden and boulders were "hand picked" for effect. Finding special rocks is as much fun as gardening! We even have crystals in there and geodes, along with a few ceramic critters peeking out from different places.

All plants surrounding our beautiful rocks are ferns, lantana, Yucca, bougainvillea, Texas sage, African daisies, hibiscus, and a few Ficus trees.

All are in full sun and doing very well. None have died. Not even the plants!

We have enjoyed doing this so much we have decided to extend this project. We are now working on a Zen garden.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 11:29AM
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racie212(z9 AZ)

Didn't mean to make you fall asleep, pagancat, though some of us are quite happy in our master-planned communities. I happen to enjoy Queen Palms, and lantana, for that matter (though, I can do without the "ugly-ander" and bouganvillia). Kinda crazy that people who live in the desert enjoy desert landscaping......


    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 8:32PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

LOL - trust me, I have enough variety of my own to keep me awake, Rachel. Glad you're happy where you're at! To each their own - you would likely be miserable where I am & I'm certain the same is true for me where you are. So, tell us about your desert plants, Rachel. What desert plants are you using in your part of the desert?

And really, the developers & HOA's are only partially at fault for the incredibly limited plant palette used in the metro area. Many of the nurseries are concerned with the bottom line, not with increasing choices to encompass the hundreds of availble natives and desert adapted plants, and all of the above are simply catering to what people buy.

"We even have crystals in there and geodes, along with a few ceramic critters peeking out from different places."

Good job, GardenNeverFinished - sounds like a magical place.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 12:54AM
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Padron4km(8/9 Chandler,AZ)


Not because they won't grow, in fact I grew them for a girlfriend years ago, but because I don't like them yeechhhh. :-)

Beyond that I think I'll try anything at least once.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 1:45AM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Belated happy birthday, Jeff! Hope you had a great party, complete with cigars, beer and hot peppers. And, hey, if you're so successful growing beets, I'll buy the seeds and you grow 'em. Can't believe you don't like them. Ever had 'em roasted?

OK, back to plants. Just returned from San Diego and have a major case of plant - environment? - envy. Plumerias everywhere, gorgeous neon-purple morning glories (no snide comments, please), fabulous blooming trees including dinner-plate size magnolias, exotic flowering have-no-idea-what-they-are but *certain* they-would-die-here plants. Incredible bromeliad 'forests' in the ground. So what if they have earthquakes?

I'm including rosemary on my list of what not to buy. I know, I know, the stuff is everywhere, but every single one I buy gets decimated by some webby creature and dies. All my other herbs are doing fine. What is it with this rosemary?!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 2:08PM
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frangipaniaz(z9 Az)

I have seen southern magnolia trees taller than houses smack dab in the middle of Phoenix, so it can be done... but I can't find one in a nursery to even try it... I have an extremely happy gardenia and my geraniums are even summering over...I wouldn't suggest fuschia's to any except the very experienced gardener because of the constant care they need although they are gorgeous(I have 2 that I'm just trying to keep alive through the summer, I'm not the experienced gardener ;) ), I also wouldn't spend money on hydrangeas, azaleas, camelias, rhododendrons, even some columbines, Lily of the Valley (Lily of the Nile does ok),lilac, be careful choosing a wisteria since they sometimes don't do well, and berry bushes like blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry. I think I could keep going so I'll stop... One of the main reasons I don't like Phoenix as much as other places.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 6:33PM
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birdlady_in_mesa(z9 AZ)

Hiya Brittany! if you are looking for a magnolia, try Tera's in central Phx. She had a couple nice ones (5gal?) that have made it through one winter and one summer, so I would say they are acclimated....


    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 7:42PM
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frangipaniaz(z9 Az)

Thanks.. is Tera's the name of the nursery?? I love magnolias and once I realized they could grow here I've been on a manhunt...

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 5:21PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Yup, Tera's gardens.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 10:46PM
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Easygoing(Sunset zone 13)

There were two at Home Depot on the corner of Alma School and Chandler Blvd last weekend. Big 15 gallon size. I'm trying a smaller magnolia that does not get very big. It's a Jane Magnolia. So far it is handling the heat well, and doing good. It gets filtered sunlight. I'll move it out in full sun this fall through summer, if it does well then, it will go in the ground. There is a link to a picture of this tree below.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 1:57PM
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PenBuilder(z9 AZ)

There is a group of ficus trees that look like sonoran rock figs on steriods (not elastica). They have planted a few at the zoo. I've seen one in Tempe in a hood around Rural and Baseline. There are three planted near Osborn hospital on Shea. Those are all that I have seen in Phoenix - and I've been looking ~ha ha ha~. I FELL IN LOVE with these trees. I searched for them a very long time. I always had nurseries foiling my hunt with incorrect advise and false leads.

I finally found one at Plants for the Southwest labeled Ficus benhalensis. I purchased it, but it was only a foot tall - I needed more. After endless attemps from various nurseries, TreeLand finalley found me a 24 inch box that they called Ficus benhalensis. So now I have it. I planted it in March. The branchs have each grown at least a foot.

I have learned is that my tree is probably not ficus benahalensis. There is a large group of ficus trees that have the large lime green leaves from Africa and India. There is like 20 species and few of them are grown as garden plants. They grow so easily from cuttings that most likely my tree started as a cutting from some other oddball import. Who knows what I got, but I love it.

If it dies this winter, I may kill myself


    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 11:48PM
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honeysuckle_hater(Irvine CA)

Japanese Honeysuckle! Nearly impossible to get rid of this pernicious weed that was actually planted in my yard. Even the strongest weed and brush poisons barely make it sick.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 1:32AM
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Guys guys!!!! Its a great thread but i think it got thrown OFF THE PATH! Lets get to bare basics here and then we can break it down, what you say?

So, what NOT TO PLANT NOW as it will not survive next summer? Let me pitch in a bit.

1. Euonimous i planted in the full sun died, no matter how much water i gave it.

2. Ice Plant in the full sun will slowly dry up and birds will finish it off.

3. Italian Cypress seems to be quite finiky. I have 3 - one is Ok more or less, 1 is almost toast, 1 is in between.

That is all from me for NOW. LOL I am really new to all this so i tried to shy away from complicated plants and stick with toughest "Troops" i can find. My lantanas are doing great! LOL I think everyone should go that route. There are at least 5-6 diffrent colors and they come in low-height traling and bush like varieties to suite many many diffrent tastes. Now, some one just needs to come up with a lantana vine and we are golden!


    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 12:23PM
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Thought I'd chime in about the plants that were here when we moved in - which I *loathe* because of their invasiveness (is that a word?!)

These are the prayers and/or curses I've hurled at them so many times:

-- Sumac - O, how you trees do vex me! You looked *so* lovely when we got here - Until I realized you reseed like demons. If I don't check *every area* of the yard regularly, you *will* take over, and you *will* be nearly impossible to dig up. Why, O, Why?

That first year, when I was blissfully ignorant, you took advantage by growing multi-trunked babies all around the orange tree. I see wickedness in the way your babies continue to grow, though we've tried to get rid of them. Now they are smothering that sweet orange tree to death.

I am vigilant against your seedlings!

You, in turn, have made our neighbors hate us because they have to be ever vigilant against you, too.

Sumac, you are bad, Bad, BAD!

-- Effing Multi-Color Lantana - Effing breed of Lantana, I think you taunt only me since I've not seen much of you anywhere but our backyard, our front yard, and now our neighbors yards. No matter how hard you are cut back, you grow 6 feet tall and nearly as wide in just a few months. You are tough and I usually admire that, but you have made me use the dread Roundup against you several times now without luck.

Digging you up has been impossible, as you seem to have roots burrowed to the center of the Earth. Birds love your berries/seeds, which is also admirable, but when they eventually drop your endless seed all over AZ, I must take umbrage on behalf of the many plants whose space you've invaded.

Lastly, if you were only one of the solid colors, it might make you seem tolerable, but you are U G L Y.

-- Ornamental Grasses - You should be Outlawed in AZ!!!! Yes, you can be gorgeous. However, you are smothering out life in the desert. In Tucson, I find you along just about every main road, blowing in the breeze - spreading your endless seed.

The big box stores and gardening shows may love you, but I wish you would die.

-- Mystery plant with the evil taproot from Hell that will never die and is always popping up all over our yards - What are you anyway? And uh, how can I kill you?

-- Trumpet Creeper vine - I think this is your name. You have been chain sawed down to the ground, but your mangled stump returned to life like a Freddy Kruger nightmare. Again we chain sawed you. Yet, here you are, completely taking over that huge corner. You attract plagues of aphids. I do not like you. Please, for the love of all that is holy, go away.

To all the Delphiniums, Geraniums, Gardenias, and various other flowery things that died - Although you have nearly made me weep with bitterness many times - When compared to the monsters mentioned above, you seem almost preferable. Almost.

That said, *all* of you are on notice. It is getting cooler now and I have my saws, clippers and shovels at the ready!


    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 11:44PM
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I think the most important thing is planting the right plants together, adjusting the soil to meet there needs and knowing the micro climates and plan accordingly. I think every gardener probably has a heap full of plants that didn't survive waiting to be returned to Home Depot or Lowe's.
Some of my new favorites are pink Gaura, Butterfly bush Mexican sage. I use Mary Irish's AZ Gardening as my gardening bible so to speak. It tells me when, where, how what type of soil and how much water.
I've found digging a bigger hole taking out as much caliche as I can, sifting the soil through a screen before I put it back in the ground and mixing it with whatever it needs compost gypsum etc.. I try to not amend it more then 1/3rd unless it's a foreign plant like Hosta or blueberries.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 1:58PM
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