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Wonderful Flower Choices for Gardening in the Southwest

This is a beautiful ornamental plum tree.

This is a beautiful ornamental plum tree.

Ornamental Fruit Trees

These fruit trees in the southwest desert in Arizona are perfect plums, peaches, oranges, persimmons, and pomegranates. Ornamental fruit trees come in several colorful flowers, such as dark pink plum trees, white Bradford pears, and light pink crab apple trees. There are combinations of fruit trees with different types of apples, citruses, pears, and peaches in one tree. It can be grafted on multiple branches on trunks of different fruit varieties. For a small space, you can create a single kind of fruit tree with more fruits.

There are Arizona ash trees, palo verdes, mesquites, desert willows, and other spring flowering trees. There are also a number of southwest evergreen cedars, pines, and junipers. Deciduous trees are the ones that drop pine needles, leaves, and flowers. Some of the leaves turn orange, yellow, and red fall colors. There are also pistachio trees that produce the nuts after at least 5 years that will take 10 years to reach peak production.

Landscape trees require medium- to low-water usage for the newly planted trees. Most Arizona trees grow slowly over the next number of years. Low-water irrigation is for small, medium, and large native plants. Shut off the water after 20 to 30 minutes during this time. It’s a balance if you have fruit trees that need frequent watering.

This Arizona ash is deciduous and drops leaves and thorns during the fall.

This Arizona ash is deciduous and drops leaves and thorns during the fall.

Planting Flowers and Shrub Bushes

Flower bulbs and shrubs should be planted in late September and October. The six or seven months will allow them to grow and be established right before the summer months. Plant perennials like daisies, tulips, daffodils, marigolds, azalea bushes, and violets during the cool spring. Pansies also bloom throughout the winter.

If you plant bushes in the fall, you will have a spring green landscape curb appeal that looks beautiful, with blooming shrubs and flowers. There are fall, winter, spring, and summer annual plants. Switch out flowers with zinnias, and they can stay until October. There are plenty of other blooms like geraniums, cornflowers, and snapdragons that can crossover during seasons.

These desert flowers and bushes are colorful.

These desert flowers and bushes are colorful.

Favorite Annuals

  • Alyssum is a low bush that spreads and covers. It has tiny, sweet-smelling flowers in shades of either white, pink, or purple. These sow the tiny seeds on the ground and sprouts in the spring. They are great clumps of plantings. The alyssum also looks pretty around the edges of the garden borders.
  • Begonias create a colorful addition to wonderful garden areas. Coppery or green semi-succulent foliage that highlights delicate red, pink, and white flowers. They can be planted in the ground or in hanging baskets, or they can be set in containers on a porch or patio. Begonias are a variety of New Guinea species that are taller and spread with larger blooms. They require filtered light and moist, but well-draining soil.
  • Celosia has bright garden colors in the desert summer weather. The purplish red feathery foliage has deep red flower spikes. The plumes of celosia have multiple shades of yellow, pink, and red with green leaves. They make an excellent full sun selection for borders and can create a background in the flower beds. You should keep them neat.
  • Cosmos is a precious plant with large, daisy-like flowers in colors of pink, purple, white, and lavender. It can reach 3 feet in height. It is a lovely accent background for flower gardens. These plants self-sow, so they will pop up every spring.
  • Lobelias are excellent trailing plants that are for window boxes, flower pots, and hanging baskets. In gardens with shady trees, it makes a nice close-packed border. The varieties are colors of rich blue, purple, white, red, and rose with contrast bright green leaves. Others may be pure white, pink, or blue with white eyes.
  • Petunias are tiny or large, trumpet-shaped flowers that are typically compact, bushy plants. The shades range from white, purple, pink, red, and lovely bicolor. Varieties can be aromatic and sweetly fragrant. The excellent plantings that bloom from spring through early fall need afternoon shade in summer so they avoid drooping and drying up. Don’t forget to pinch off the deadheads, so they will bloom all throughout the warm seasons.
  • Vinca is a ground cover that has glossy green leaves. The summer plants with their flowers are unusual shades of periwinkle blue, purple, pink, and bright white with variegated leaves with yellow and white lines and spots. The borders are flower bed accents. Don’t forget to avoid overhead sprinkling—just water along the soil. They will return seeds from the next warm season.
Celosia has wild and colorful plume flowers.

Celosia has wild and colorful plume flowers.

Favorite Perennials

  • Dianthus are like carnation species of flowering plants in the same family. They make perfect, frilly, rounded flowers of color in spring and fall. The blooms turn off and on during the seasons throughout the year. Dianthus flowers are commonly found in shades of white, pink, and red and have a wonderfully sweet, fragrant clove aroma. These 12-inch flowers grow well in partial shade. You can place them in any of the flower beds.
  • Dusty Millers are highly favored for their soft, silvery-gray, fern-like foliage. They're perfect for formal borders and accents in the southwest desert gardens. These fuzzy plants look good throughout the entire growing season. You can use them as a background for vivid flowers or as a statement for a container. This beautiful plant lasts and lasts. Rabbits won’t attack these Dusty Miller plants.
  • Gazania flowers are part of the daisy family. They are bright, cheery plants that are trailing or clumping types. It's hard to believe that this plant is both so rugged and so beautiful. Gazania is often an annual and perennial because of its extreme heat and drought tolerance. The trailing types are excellent ground covers that spread quickly. They are perfect for accents, masses, or garden borders. Color shades include white, maroon, lemon, orange, rosy, and bicolors. Be sure to never overwater the gazanias.
  • Lantana is a versatile colorful plant that is available for desert climates. The colors are gorgeous orange, purple, red, and yellow. They also come in beautiful multicolors. Lantana varieties are trails, mounds, and bushes. You can use them as ground cover, accent borders, or low hedges. Don’t forget to prune the plants in summer when the new growth emerges.
  • Pentas are sparkling, star-shaped flowers that bloom all summer in bold shades of red, white, lavender, purple, and pink. They are sun lovers that grow around 18 to 36 inches. They spread with multi-stemmed compact plants that are continuously covered with the clusters of red, white, lilac, and pink flowers. In the evening, sprinkle water over the plants.
These lantana flowers have showy clusters  with multiple colors.

These lantana flowers have showy clusters with multiple colors.

Warm Weather Tips

  1. Amend soil properly before planting. Use amendment and add planting mix with vital organic matter for the planting area and to improve the drainage.
  2. Don’t overhead sprinkle when watering, as that can prevent gnarled blossoms and create disease issues. Large plant leaves might shed off the water. It may cause drying up of their root balls.
  3. The most important thing is good drainage. Too much water can create soggy soil and cause root suffocation. Root rot can kill your plants.
  4. Fertilize your plants regularly during each season. Scatter flower food around the plants every month to promote the flowering blooms.
  5. Always mulch around the plant soil along the surface to preserve the cool moisture that will conserve the plant roots during the hot summer months.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on May 28, 2020:

Eman, I'm glad you liked the desert Southwest flowers and trees!

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on May 28, 2020:

So beautiful flowers and trees. Thank you, Linda, for sharing this useful article.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on May 16, 2020:

Linda Crampton, glad you'd like the wonderful plants in the southwest desert in my Arizona area.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 16, 2020:

You've described and shown some beautiful plants. It's lovely to think about garden plans, especially at this time. Thanks for sharing the information, Linda.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on May 16, 2020:

Pamela, there are so many flowers, variety desert trees and fruit trees are here in Arizona. I do love the lantanas! I'm glad that you enjoyed the article.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 16, 2020:

You have a lot of beautiful flowers and some great trees as well. I also have Lantana growing in my yard. I didn't know that many fruit trees grew in your area. This is a good article, Linda.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on May 14, 2020:

Liz, glad you like the plants in Arizona central and south in this warm and super hot summer climate.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 14, 2020:

It's interesting to learn from this hub what grows well in the south west. The list reminds me of some things that I have seen growing in Spain, a much milder climate than that of the UK. Your illustrations are first class too.