What grows in the desert climate?

gkb48October 27, 2012

I tell my northern friends, "if the heat doesn't kill it the cold will." As a snowbird and garden enthusiast I've seen the challenges of gardening in Sun City, AZ. No wonder everybody around here has gravel and cactus landscaping. I've literally spent many hundreds of dollars in the last three years trying to get a decent looking front and backyard because of the weather and rabbits. So far my favorites by default are yellow bells, bougainvillea, lantana, palo verde trees and sometimes oleanders because they are the only ones that live through five months of 100+ degree heat. When the cold comes in the winter most of these plants die back considerably. I've found it much easier to grow in zone 5 (northeast Washington state) than in zone 9 (Phoenix, AZ area). Are there other plants that can be recommended that I'm missing out on that will do well in the desert climate?

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Some of the biggest challenges to desert gardening are solved with correct plant choice. There are lots of good books on gardening with desert plants, especially with native species. I would not be surprised if there are more species at your disposal in a subtropical desert climate such as Phoenix than NE WA state. The problem is when plant choices from WA, or NY, or coastal CA become popular in desert areas, such as folks trying to grow a lawn in the desert.

That said, there are many specific gardening practices for desert areas that are crucial to success, and the establishment period is certainly much longer and trickier in arid climates compared to wetter ones. Again, there are lots of good books, I'll try to think of some to list here.

P.S. This particular forum is quite dead, so don't expect too many responses here (you could try the AZ forum too).

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 4:10PM
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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

Have you contacted your local Ext. Office or Master Gardeners group for plant recommendations or help with gardening?

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 2:10PM
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