Arizona gardeners–you deserve an extra pat on the back. You have a unique challenge on your hands in producing vibrant, healthy gardens that can somehow withstand the intensely hot, dry conditions of the desert landscape. These plants must be tough, yet also beautiful, to stand up to the challenging conditions of the area’s climate.
Growing plants in containers presents a distinct advantage to traditional gardening. Container gardening makes it easier to moderate the amount of moisture and sunlight these plants receive, and also allows you to transport them inside if the weather shifts to undesirable conditions. When you’re planning out your next container garden, consider the following list of Arizona natives that grow well in containers of all shapes and sizes.
- Tufted evening-primrose Tufted evening-primrose is an herb subshrub, native to Arizona with the ability to grow quite rapidly and prolifically. It blooms in late spring and loves the sun and requires an average soil moisture, making it an ideal candidate for Arizona container gardening. It produces vibrant white flowers that help make a statement early in the season, and is a perennial, meaning it will be more hardy than other container species.
- Desert agave Desert agave is a versatile plant that will add texture and drama to a rock or traditional garden. These evergreen succulents form rosettes of rigid, spiny leaves, and tolerate most kinds of soils. However, keep in mind that agaves grown in pots need well-drained soils, so you may need to poke additional holes in the bottom of your containers. Consider pruning your agave every year to prevent it from cracking the container. The best part about growing desert agave in a container? You only need to water it once a week!
- Blackfoot daisy These vibrant white daisies help to brighten up any desert landscape. They appear fragile, but actually are quite hardy, even in drought-like conditions. It is easy to reseed and grows well in a container, needing water only a couple of times a month during the hot summer months. It flowers several times between spring and fall, making it a great candidate to add soft texture and color to the landscape. It accentuates flowering plants like verbena and firecracker penstemon quite nicely when planted alongside them in alternating containers. It also provides nice texture as a companion to agave or prickly pear plants.
- Blue flax Blue flax is a flexible plant, adapting well to most conditions as long as it has full sunlight. This plant can be easily started from seed and is self-sufficient once it has established roots. It produces pale blue-violet flowers that bloom readily between March and September.
- Rosemary ‘Tuscan Blue’ This edible, fragrant plant (related to traditional kitchen-variety rosemary) is a great container plant. It needs limited amounts of water and produces vibrant purple leaves that can spread up to two feet wide. It requires lots of space, but small amounts of water, and thrives in the heat. It adds beauty and variety, creating a nice centerpiece when planted among non-flowering plants or shrubs.
- Lavender “Goodwin Creek Grey” If you choose to plant this gorgeous perennial in a container, you will soon notice hordes of birds, bees, and butterflies flocking to your deck. It is an excellent attractant for pollinators and grows up to three feet high. It requires only moderate amounts of moisture and can tolerate periodic droughts. It produces dark purple flower spikes and is very tolerant of the heat and direct sunlight. Best yet, it is fragrant, and provides a nice pop of color to an otherwise lacking space.
- Barrel cactus Barrel cactus plants are slightly outside of the norm, adding an interesting new dimension to your container garden. It love extreme heat and sunlight, but very little water, needing moisture once every few months. This cactus develops vibrant colorful blooms and can reach over three feet in height. It produces fleshy, juicy fruits which, though inedible, provide a fascinating conversation piece at which your guests can marvel.
- Bougainvillea – “La Jolla” While there are many varieties and shades of Bougainvillea vines to choose from, La Jolla is no doubt one of the most vibrant. This plant produces deep green foliage and reaches lengths of up to thirty feet. It has deep reddish-purple blossoms and attracted pollinators and long-tongued insects. Its vibrant colors can brighten up the desert landscape, and its arching vines will provide a new dimension to the layout of your outdoor space. —Rebekah White