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Ideas for desert flower beds

Posted by Kelii00 9b (My Page) on
Mon, May 27, 13 at 20:13

Hello everyone. I live in the desert and was looking for ideas for creating a colorful yet heat-resistant flower bed. I totally failed with my flowers from spring. They were not compatible with each other as far as watering goes. And they died as soon as the first 100 degree day hit. I had a beautiful camellia, love song rose, hibiscus, allyssum, and carnations all together in one bed. Stupid beginner mistake lol.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

Check with your local water company to see what can grow in your area. Plant things with similar watering needs together.

Camellias and carnations need humidity, and carnations prefer cooler weather. They are DEAD in AZ.

Allysum can make a good ground cover because it can handle the heat OK.


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

thanks lazygardens! Well luckily I have no water restrictions because I'm on my own well. but maybe they'd have some ideas? idk. My allyssum is doing great but its all alone in a partly ripped out flower bed. looks horrible!


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

how about datura? I should have some seeds I can share in a couple of weeks.


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

Vinca do really well in the heat if they get a drink each day. Lantana and moss rose need little water.


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

thanks for responding miss red! I have those flowers, I went overboard with moss rose! Managed to kill a few of them. I either over watered or under watered. Anyway yeah I was wondering if there was anything exotic or tropical that would make it in the desert. :)


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

I warmly recommend Mexican petunia, beautiful, reseeding and blooming purple all summer, great for back of the flowerbed. I barely water it ever. Also I just love the wild growing Oenothera (evening primrose) that is growing as weeds here, I just confine it to flower beds and omg what a spring show. :) I do have to pull or trim them up in July once theyre done blooming, but if you are not shy of doing that, they will reward you with continuous bloom from May to July.I recommend interplanting with another plant that starts blooming in July etc.


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

I love Mexican petunias! In fact for a long time I'd been seeing them around town and wondered what they were. I finally saw them a Lowe's and I wanted one so bad. But they were out of my budget. After seeing your pic. I might just go buy a few. Very beautiful! I'm jealous. :).


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

The pic is of the wildflower Evening primrose, grows like weed here. :) I don't think they would sell it at Lowes, hehehe. I am trying to find a good blooming pic of Mexican petunia but it's been raining for 4 days here (we are dancing in the rain it's marvelous), so this one will have to do, even it's not in full bloom. :)


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

You're going to have to get away from the "traditional" selection of plants. The typical plants that most garden centers carry are not suited for desert regions. You will have to do some research into plants that come from other desert areas that would not only survive in your desert climate, but also THRIVE in your climate. Look for plants that originate in your immediate vicinity. There are many natives that work very well for instant color. Look for penstemons (p. heterophylus, p. piniifolia, and p. barbatus are three that come to mind). Also, look for plants that originate in other dry climates around the world. There is a slew of beautiful and exotic plants from dry, desert regions in the Americas, Chile, Australia, South Africa and the Mediterranean region.

I would suggest you use select plants with interesting foliage. In a region with limited water, your color should come primarily from the foliage itself. Desert plants usually have a short, intense bloom period so use flowers as a secondary source of color. Below are some examples that I have arranged:

In this first example, the main interest comes from the texture contrast between the tiny leaves of the santolina shrubs, and the smooth, wild look of the Stipa tenuissima. In early summer, the santolina will produce masses of small yellow blooms and the powdery green/white cotyledon sends up the ghostly colored pink blossoms. At other times of the year, Salvia gregii puts on masses of bright red blooms that shine like little jewels among the grey tones. This garden bed gets watered about once a month.

This example includes more of the cacti and succulents. The color in this bed comes from the red/orange tone of the crassula "campfire" which turns brighter and brighter with less and less water. The more stressed the plant becomes, the brighter the red coloration becomes. The Cacti bloom beautifully in the early summer, and other color here comes from Salvia canariensis, and native mimulus aurantiaca, mimulus guttatus, mimulus cardinalis and california poppies in the spring time.


This other area also includes very little color coming from the blooms themselves. Most of the interest comes from textural contrast in foliage. The color schemes are all grey/green, so that any small amount of color really seems to POP right out at you. The hedge in the third photo is made of Sedum Praealtum. It need absolutely not summer water and is easy to propagate. I started this entire hedge with a small three inch cutting. I simply kept breaking off pieces and sticking them in the soil to create the hedge.




And lastly, here is a final example of using foliage for color. This arrangement uses New Zealand Sedge and Aloe Striata. In the summer, the Aloe is mostly green and the grass is a yellow-green color. In the winter time, the sedge becomes a fiery red orange, and the Aloe becomes a ghostly blue and hints of pink along the edges. The aloe does produce beautiful blooms in the early spring, but the color comes mainly from the foliage itself.
This is the summer time coloration

Here is the winter time coloration


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

those are wonderful pictures, Central Cali! and I agree--you have to pick plants that are suitable for the region; and most "flower bed" plants aren't.


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

I love your cactus and succulents! I have horrible luck with them. Very pretty landscaping. I guess I am being unrealistic. I have looked over the internet over and over. I love flowers, I don't really care for the typical desert landscape. So I think I am going to stick to fall/spring flowers. and let the beds sit empty during summer. I have horrible luck with cacti. Oh well :-) .


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

you don't have your "desert eyes" on yet.


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

Oh no they're on, and have been on for 12 years very unfortunately lol. No I love centralcalis pictures, she did hers beautifully. I am just more about big showy flowers. I do have a few cactus and they're flowers are wonderful but only last for like a week. But I am really grateful for the ideas!


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

And btw I don't just go to the "garden centers" I have traded with many people on here and I have things that aren't just for "flower beds".


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

haha! Thank you both. There are a lot of books you can pick up that cover information on gardening in the southwest. You don't have to stick with cacti and succulents. I can think of a handful of plants that have big beautiful flowers. caesalpinia pulcherrima and Eucalyptus macrocarpa both have some of the most stunning flowers I grow.

btw, I'm a male haha. No offense taken :)


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

Oh I'm sorry lol!!! I am going to go look up those 2 you just suggested. :-)


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

Here's eucalyptus macrocarpa: The blooms are 6 inches in diameter:



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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

Oh yeah that's really cool looking. It looks like a big tree, huh. I like it. Haven't seen those anywhere I don't think.


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RE: Ideas for desert flower beds

And btw I don't just go to the "garden centers" I have traded with many people on here and I have things that aren't just for "flower beds".


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