Good low-maintenance plants for hot climate?

giddyupgo(9a)June 16, 2011

Hi all,

We live in a place with scorchingly hot summers (in the 100s for several weeks in the summer, with averages in the 90s). Our house sits smack in the middle of a clearing, without a single tree to provide shade (which makes for some high air conditioning bills every year).

Anyway, I'd like to plant some shrubs or other ornamental plant around our deck. I think they would need to be non-flowering because my kids spend a lot of time on the deck in the summers and I don't want anything that will attract a lot of bees, unless such a thing exists as a bee-repellent flower. Would be nice if I could plant something that will get big enough to provide shade, but I don't know if that's a good idea so close to the house.

You'll all have to forgive me because I haven't done much gardening, and when I try I tend to kill things just by looking at them (don't worry, I'll be sure to shield my eyes every time I walk down the deck, haha). So I need tough, forgiving plants and probably also plants that are low maintenance as well as tolerant of heat and full sun. Also probably need my answers dumbed-down. :-)

Thanks in advance!


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Hi Becky, Have you considered trees? I am no expert but I do know there are those with root systems that would be ok close to the house. Try searching on a Tree forum, assuming there is one?? Sorry I could not be more help.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 7:54PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Have you considered planting a few trees to help shade the house? I have three on the east side of my house to keep the sun off of the roof until about 11am. I wish I could plant some on the other side, but the fenceline is too close.

How much room do you have around the deck? How wide can the shrubs get?

I wouldn't worry at all about bees. Bees that are collecting nectar are single-minded and rarely take time to sting unless you grab them. Most shrubs don't bloom for more that a few weeks a year- so it's not a huge issue.

The classic hard-to-kill shrub is the wax-leaf privet. It gets flowers for a short period of time in the spring, but most people prune them so they never flower. One of mine is very old and is now a small tree about twelve feet tall. I have others that screen off the neighbors. They are deep green, drought tolerant, insect and disease resistant, and can take the heat. Another nice shrub is rhaphiolepis or Indian Hawthorne. They flower in different colors of pink or white. They get wide rather than tall, although you can buy them as small trees.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 8:04PM
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Thank you ... Just visited the tree forum to see if I could get any good ideas. I do still want to plant a few ornamental shrubs, probably non-flowering, between the deck and the driveway. Anyone have any ideas for hearty shrubs that will do well in my area? Thanks again ...

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 9:30PM
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Hi Becki, you didn't tell us where you are located. I agree with others that you need some shade. Do you have a good local nursery that could introduce you to the tried and true plants in your area? I would say, look around your neighborhood and see what looks healthy and appeals to you. And, you need the Western Garden Book! There are chapters and pictures on plants for dry areas, natives, flowering shrubs, annuals, etc., etc. Once you start looking you will probably get excited about gardening. There is so much to choose from...good luck!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 10:11PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Where do you live? The conditions are different in different parts of 9a. Most of us use the Sunset zones to give people a better idea of our conditions. Valencia is different than Walnut or Pico Rivera.

How wide is the spot between your driveway and your deck? Do you want something two feet wide or twelve feet wide?

There are very few shrubs that never flower. All I can think of is arborvitae, based on the info you have given.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 5:21PM
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