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Gardening in Arizona: Our Top 5 Favorite Plants for Your Desert Spring Garden


Though the first day of spring is technically March 20th, every Phoenix resident knows that springtime warmth is in the air practically the moment you take your holiday decorations down. With the hot weather rolling in so quickly, it’s easy to feel like you’ve missed the opportunity to plant your Arizona garden before the heat sets in. No need to worry - there’s still plenty of time to plant beautiful flowers, succulents, cactus, and shrubs!

We’re recommending some of our favorite options to plant right now so that your yard stays beautiful and verdant - even in the wicked heat of summer. We’ve specifically picked plants that grow well with full sun exposure, for easy planting and low-effort maintenance. Take a look!

gardening in Arizona, Bougainvillea plant

Bougainvillea

Not only is this plant dramatic and romantic - it's also incredibly easy to care for and very difficult to kill! The iconic Bougainvillea loves bright direct sunlight and thrives in Arizona's sunny weather, even in the extreme heat of summer. Though it can also do well in filtered shade, we love its ability to be planted in those tricky sun-drenched spots in your yard where everything else seems to falter. Water deeply to encourage lush growth, and plant a trailing, high-climbing variety next to a trellis or pergola for crazy beautiful vines that will provide decadent shade. 

Perennial bloom - blooms nearly year-round

Plant: March - November

Sun: full sun or filtered shade

Water: water deeply every 7-14 days - allow to dry out in between waterings

gardening in arizona, zinnia flowers

Zinnias

These cheerful, bright beauties are a Southwestern member of the daisy family. Zinnias can thrive in full sun but they do like rich, nutrient-packed soil, so they’re a better fit for planting beds than your yard’s natural rocky soil. They bloom in early spring and continue producing colorful flowers throughout the summer and into fall. Prune withered flowers to encourage new blooms!

Annual bloom - will need to be replanted next year

Plant: February - June

Sun: full sun or filtered shade

Water: water lightly daily, or deeply once per week

gardening in arizona, elephant's food plant

Elephant’s Food

Arguably our favorite succulent, Elephant’s Food can look both playful and refined, and suits practically any style of pot or planter. It absolutely loves the sun and doesn’t mind being neglected, so it’s fairly worry-free. It sprawls and drapes, so you can plant it in a hanging pot to extend from your front porch, or in a large, wide planter and watch it grow. 

Grows well year-round - protect from frost in winter

Plant: Year-round

Sun: full sun, part shade, or bright indirect sun

Water: water deeply, roughly once per week - allow to dry out in between waterings 

gardening in arizona, vinca flowers

Vinca

Simple, elegant Vinca is a low-profile sprawling shrub that will easily fill wide spaces but is also surprisingly perfect for narrow planters and pots thanks to its small stature. You’ll most often see the star-shaped blooms in bright pinks or crisp white, which will last all summer long. Plant them in well-draining soil, because you’ll need to water them daily - this will encourage productive blooming and prevent the Vinca from getting “leggy”. 

Perennial bloom - will bloom again next year

Plant: March - June

Sun: full sun or part shade

Water: water lightly daily

gardening in arizona, cosmos flowers

Cosmos

We love delicate, wild, playful cosmos - we use them in arrangements often for a touch of character and whimsy. Cosmos flower in the middle of summer, providing a lovely pop of color to enjoy when so many other plants are struggling. They’re incredibly resilient - they so easily tolerate poor soil and scarce waterings that you can even scatter seeds across your yard rather carelessly for a natural wildflower aesthetic. 

Annual bloom - will need to be replanted next year

Plant: March - June

Sun: full sun or filtered shade

Water: water weekly

There are so many other beautiful and interesting options for planting in Arizona! We always recommend planting native species as much as possible, because they’re better for the environment, help us protect native pollinator populations, use less water, and of course are best suited to thrive in our desert home.

Have questions about what to plant on your patio or in your garden? Stop by our shop, our team would love to help!


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