The difference between drought tolerant and drought resistant plants?

Define drought tolerant.  What is a drought resistant plant? Here is the difference between drought tolerant (true desert plant) and drought resistant (originated in semi-arid places).

A flower or plant that has naturally evolved to survive periods of drought with little water and has the ability to tolerate substantial dehydration of their tissues and organs is drought tolerant.  Xerophytes are the BEST drought tolerant plants, shrubs, trees, and cacti.

cactus plants use little water are heat tolerant
Drought tolerant Saguaro Cactus and Prickly Pear Cactus

Cacti and many plants survive on little water and make Xeriscape not only essential but pleasing to the eye. Derived from the Greek word “xeros”, meaning “dry” and combined with landscape, xeriscape means gardening with less than average water.

drought resistant landscape yard
flowering, hairy cactus with drought tolerant agave plants

Many xerophyte plants have specialized tissues for storing water, as in the stems of cacti and the leaves of succulents. Others have thin, narrow leaves, or even spines, for minimizing water loss.  Xerophyte leaves often have abundant stomata to maximize gas exchange during periods in which water is available, and the stomata are recessed in depressions, which are covered with fine hairs to help trap moisture in the air.

drought resistant tolerant bushes in yard design
xeriscape yard with XEROMORPHIC plants like cactus, yucca, ocotillo

Drought tolerant plants have adapted by making use of either C4 Carbon Fixation or CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism) a carbon fixation pathway that evolved in some plants as an adaptation to arid conditions.

xerophyte plants best drought resistant
A drought tolerant Joshua Tree and Yucca Cactus in this photo

In a plant using full CAM, the stomata, in the leaves, remain shut during the day to reduce the loss of water as vapor, but open at night to collect carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 is stored and then used during photosynthesis, which is the process of capturing the suns energy.

what is drought tolerant and resistant plants
Saguaro cactus and Palo Verde Tree are well – adapted drought tolerant plants.

CAM is particularly good for arid conditions because CO2 can be absorbed at night, allowing the pores on the leaves to stay closed during the day and thus reducing water loss. A easy way to explain it is drought tolerant plants can slow down metabolism.

Blue agave cactus plant with spike leaves in desert
Lovely Agave titanota BLUE variety

High elasticity of the cytoplasm and the capacity to withstand compression of the cells during dehydration are characteristic of drought-tolerant plants. What is cytoplasm? An easy definition of cytoplasm is a gel-like casing, covering – containing all the contents of the cell’s organisms, except the nucleus. Most metabolic (chemical reactions) pathways occur in the cytoplasm.

ocotillo tall cactus for drought tolerant yard arizona
Ocotillo Cactus plant in the desert

Not to be confused with drought-tolerant plants, Drought Resistant plants are not true desert plants. Many have originated in semi-arid regions, the area around the Mediterranean, Latin America and sub-Sahara.

Here are pictures of drought resistant plants that are not native desert plants.

color ideas for your desert low water, garden
colors of flowering lantana drought resistant plants next to oleander bushes

Lantana

drought tolerant and heat resistant flowering plants of the desert
The New Gold Lantana along with Trailing Purple Lantana plants
drought tolerant flowering lantana plants
White, Red (Texas) and Gold Lantana drought resistant desert plants

Lantana, in the verbena family, is a highly attractive drought resistant flowering plant that originated in tropical regions of Africa and the Americas.

drought tolerant and heat resistant purple lavender plant
lavender shrub is drought resistant

Lavender

top best drought tolerant flowering plants
young lavender drought resistant plant

This plant has it all: Drought resistant, it looks great, it smells wonderful, and it’s as tough as nails (as long as it’s not too wet).  Lavender is in the mint family and originated in the Old World around the Canary Islands, Africa, India, and Asia.

best drought tolerant heat resistant desert plants
Yarrow, yellow flowering drought resistant plants

Yarrow

Not only does yarrow tolerate heat and drought like a champion, but this easy-growing perennial is also a great cut flower.  Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, originated in regions of Asia and Europe.

best drought tolerant heat resistant desert plants
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) drought resistant plants

There is a difference between drought resistant and drought tolerant plants. Knowing the difference can save you considerable heartache.

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Is Purple Texas Sage edible? Eating a Texas Ranger Plant

Can you eat purple sage, Texas Sage?  This perennial evergreen shrub with grayish leaves and budding purple flowers is actually not sage at all.

shrub with purple flowers arizona
Purple flowering Texas Ranger Sage Plant

Rarely called Silverleaf, this popular bush is predominately specified as Texas Ranger Plant or Purple Texas Sage.

purple flowering shrub
Leucophyllum frutescens, Texas sage

Leucophyllum frutescens is the scientific name for this Sage Bush, and it is a member of the figwort family.

white cloud sage bush
white flower, White Cloud, Texas Sage

Texas Sage shrubs with white flowers are called White Cloud.  According to the National Gardening Association, Texas Sage is one plant that is most often ignored by deer unless they are starving.

bushes shrubs with white flowers
Purple and White Texas Sage bush varieties
Phoenix shrubs with purple flowers
Purple Flowers Texas Sage bushes in AZ TX CA

Rabbits and other small animals in the desert will not eat this Purple Sage either.  It is safe to say that this white or purple flowering bush is critter proof!!

texas purple flowering plant
purple flowering bush in AZ, TX

After several hours of research we were not able to find any evidence of the Texas Sage plant being edible.  Looks like it is best to leave this luscious purple shrub to the bees and the butterflies.  

purple flower bus
Texas Sage bush, Leucophyllum frutescens

Eating Texas Sage is not recommended.  Nonetheless, it is a gorgeous addition to your sun-filled garden!  White or purple Texas Sage is a popular ornamental plant that does best in dry, warm locations.

Tucson bushes with purple flowers
Purple flowering bushes sage in the desert

This flowering desert bush can grow up to 8 feet high!  In Arizona, Purple Sage is often used as a border or hedge for yards.

Texas Ranger shrubs plants
Purple flowering Sage Bushes

To learn more information regarding care and pruning your Texas Sage; check our sage category.

Drought Tolerant shrubs with Orange, Red and Yellow Flowers

The flowers on the Red, Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise bushes are thriving in the sweltering heat.  Vivid energetic colors of this drought tolerant shrub are sure to catch the eye of any passer-by.

desert plant with red and orange flowers
drought tolerant flowering shrub in the desert

This is one of our favorite desert shrubs we recommend to people who want flowering plants that are perennial (you need to plant them only once), hardy, low care, and drought resistant.

arizona texas shrubs
orange flowering bushes can take the heat

With an abundance of fern-like leaves these delightful shrubs can add a tropical perspective to any desert landscape!

orange red yellow flowering shrubs
Mexican and Red Bird of Paradise bushes

Pruning your Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima , should be in late winter or early spring. Use a sharp pair of garden shears.  Our Bird of Paradise bushes are pruned about 16 inches from ground level.

Phoenix Tucson bushes shrubs flowers
Pride of Barbados, bushes with red orange flowers

Caesalpinia gilliesii, Yellow Bird of Paradise or sometimes called “Desert Bird of Paradise” is a shrub that has been naturalized in Texas.

bushes with long red string things
Yellow Bird of Paradise Flowering Bush

The signature long red stamens adorn the clusters of charming yellow flowers. Originally from Argentina, this Yellow Bird of Paradise upright shrub is very fast growing.

varieties of bird of paradise plants
long red stamen on Yellow Bird of Paradise plants

This long-lived, drought tolerant plant is very durable along with cold and heat tolerant.  Exposure to full sun is best!  All parts of the bird of paradise plants are toxic.  Yellow Bird of Paradise can grow to the height of 10 ft.

bushes shrubs with bean pods
Yellow Bird of Paradise

Plant your Bird of Paradise in full sun locations.  These bushes do fine in any well-drained soil including rocky, native soils.

In the Spring, prune to remove dead or damaged stems.  In the summer water your Yellow Bird of Paradise every week.  Water it deeply to stimulate a long taproot.  Once established the Yellow Bird of Paradise will need less water.

Caesalpinia gilliesii, yellow bird of paradise

These desert favorites are easy to find, inexpensive, and provide exciting color over and over throughout the year.  All Bird of Paradise plants are winners for your Arizona or desert landscape!

Red Bird of Paradise, red, orange and yellow flowers

The Red Bird of Paradise is a fast grower, and will get large!  It is hardy and does well in any soil; but, the better drainage you have the healthier the plant will be.

Texas bushes with orange red flowers
Red bird of paradise shrubs grow large

Bird of Paradise plants look bare during the winter but they always come back strong and healthy! The seeds and bean pods are poisonous so be careful your children and pets don’t eat them.

heat tolerant bushes with red flowers
Bushes with orange and red flowers

Red Bird of Paradise is very hardy and drought tolerant once the taproot is established.  With a little mulch at the base, they come back year after year.

Texas bushes with orange flowers
Red Bird of Paradise is also Pride of Barbados Bush
bushes with red orange yellow flowers
Arizona red flowering desert shrubs

Many people refer to this red and orange desert bush as the Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana). The actual Mexican Bird of Paradise has all yellow flowers and is larger.

yellow flowering bush heat drought tolerant
desert shrub with yellow flowers and round leaves

Being native to Mexico, Caesalpinia Mexicana  is the real Mexican Bird of Paradise.  It is larger with ROUND leaves and can be pruned into a small tree.

Mexican Bird of Paradise bush
round leaves and yellow flowers of the Caesalpinia mexicana

Asparagus Fern is my # 8 in the top Ten heat resistant plants

Introducing the dramatic Asparagus densiflorus.  Even when southern Arizona reaches temperatures above 100 degrees the asparagus fern thrives!  Our desert garden has a subtropical ambience thanks to the ornate asparagus fern. This customary name is somewhat deceiving because the asparagus fern is not a fern at all; but a member of the Liliaceae, or Lily family.

Growing these ferns in containers is easy and low maintenance.  This plant develops large tuberous roots and can become potbound in a relatively short period of time.  Asparagus Ferns are vigorous, fast growing plants that can take extreme heat as long as it receives regular watering.

top heat resistant arizona plants
asparagus fern tropical looking asparagus fern with berries

To encourage new growth I give our asparagus ferns a trim every so often.  In the photo above you will notice several green berries that will turn red by winter.  Since these plants are dioecious, not all of your asparagus ferns will grow berries.

What does dioecious mean? Plants that are dioecious have their male and female parts on separate plants. Both male and female plants must be present for pollination to occur. Asparagus Ferns are toxic to cats and dogs.  Contact with the skin may cause dermatitis so I recommend wearing gloves.

heat tolerant Fern in Arizona desert plants
Asparagus Fern in pots and containers

From a distance, the asparagus fern, Asparagus densiflorus, looks very soft and delicate. This can be attributed to its fine, needle-like leaves.  Make no mistake, putting your hands into an asparagus fern will give you little scratches.

Asparagus Fern is native to South Africa and is an evergreen perennial that is commonly used as a groundcover or in hanging baskets for its showy foliage.

Asparagus Fern and orange honeysuckle in planters
Arizona garden with asparagus fern – tropical plants

An easy way to propagate new Asparagus Ferns is by division.  Using a large serrated knife, you can easily divide up the root ball into half or quarter sections for more new plants.

tropical desert plants in arizona
asparagus fern plants in the Arizona heat

The photo above is one of our potted asparagus ferns that is located in the full Arizona sun.  Other containers are nestled in part shade.  All of the plants are growing well with my only complaint being I need to plant more!

Yellow needles develop on asparagus ferns for different reasons such as rapid temperature change, under watering, over watering, spider mites and possibly a change in light.  Your asparagus fern will need less watering during winter and in low light conditions.

Arizona heat tolerant asparagus ferns in pots
growing asparagus ferns in part shade

Asparagus ferns can be trained to grow as a vine or cascade down a hanging planter. Note:  Sprenger’s Asparagus has been declared a noxious weed in Florida, Hawaii and New Zealand.   Listed as a Class One Invasive by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s Pest Plant List (FLEPPC).

We love Asparagus Ferns and have grown them in hot, hot Arizona for years with no behavior problems.

Bean pods on bushes with orange, yellow and red flowers – Growing tips

Using bean pods to grow your bird of paradise plants is uncomplicated and well worth the effort.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima, Red Bird of Paradise, is a species of flowering plant in the Fabaceae, pea family.

bird of paradise plants with bean pods
common desert bush with orange and red flowers

Other common names are Poinciana, Peacock Flower, Mexican Bird of Paradise, Dwarf Poinciana, Pride of Barbados, and flamboyan-de-jardin.

arizona bushes with red orange flowers fern leaves
Red Bird of Paradise drought tolerant shrubs

This is especially true for the Red Bird of Paradise bushes, genus Caesalpina,  along the roads in Tucson and Phoenix, also common in TX, Mexico and CA.

Red Bird of Paradise plants and shrubs
beautiful bushes with orange red flowers in the desert

This drought tolerant plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.

Are the Bird of Paradise Bean Pods edible?  NO, all Bird of Paradise plants and bushes are poisonous if ingested.

desert bush with red flowers and bean pods
bean pods on caesalpinia pulcherrima

Bean Pods on the Bird of Paradise bushes and shrubs need to turn brown before you can germinate the seeds.  The green bean pods pictured above and below are too young and need more time to dry on the desert plant.

desert bush with yellow flowers and bean pods
Yellow Bird of Paradise bush with bean pods

Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima,  is native to the tropics and subtropics of the Americas and is also the NATIONAL flower of the Caribbean island of Barbados, which is why you may hear it called Pride of Barbados.

red bird of paradise

PLANT AND GROW – How to grow bird of paradise plants, bushes, shrubs from seeds.

To germinate the seeds of your bird of paradise perennial plant first step is to score the hard outer coating.  I use sandpaper to lightly scrape the seeds then soak them in warm water for 24-48 hours.  They will germinate quickly like most seeds in the bean, Legume family, do.

To grow your Red Bird of Paradise, plant the soaked seed in peat pots.  Cover the seeds lightly with damp vermiculite or a good soil.

best way to grow seeds in peat pots
germinated seedling of bird of paradise bush

You should have bird of paradise seedlings in a few days to a week depending on how hard the outer coat of the seeds are.

peat pots
vermiculite

Bird of Paradise seeds need at least 8 hours of sun, but not direct sun it will be too hot! You can start to give them a little more direct sun after the first leaves appear.

Peat Pots are great and make growing and transplanting your Mexican, Yellow or Red Bird of Paradise seedlings much easier.

Start your seeds indoors and when you are ready to plant your Bird of Paradise just put the entire pot in the ground.  Roots will penetrate the peat pot and the pot disintegrates enriching the soil.

arizona orange red yellow flowers desert shrub
large flowering red bird of paradise desert bush

The Red Bird of Paradise is a deciduous (loses its leaves) shrub that thrives in  full sun and has bright red and orange flowers that grow on long, thin stalks. The leaves are lacy,  ferny-looking.

phoenix desert bushes red orange yellow flowers
grow Bird of Paradise shrubs from bean pods

This is an extraordinarily heat resistant, drought tolerant flowering bush that is a perfect addition to any yard.  The Red Bird of Paradise is a fairly fast grower, and can get large, so periodic trimming is suggested. See the photo above of large flowering bushes commonly seen along the streets in Tucson and Phoenix Arizona along with Texas and California.

Interesting Saguaro Cactus Facts

One of Arizona’s most majestic, lovable desert cactus plants is the Saguaro, Carnegiea gigantea. Being aware of the saguaro’s history and incredible internal design, it is an honor to walk close to the Giant Saguaro that is over 150 years old and standing tall.

Sonoran Desert cactus tall
Giant Saguaro Cactus of Arizona

These desert cacti are large, tree-like columnar cacti that develop branches (or arms) as they age.

Saguaro Cactus can not tolerate freezing temperatures in the winter and this is what limits their range.

Saguaro National Park
Saguaro Cactus

Saguaro FACTS:  Saguaros are a very slow growing cactus.  A 10 year old plant might only be 2 inches tall.

How tall can a Saguaro Cactus grow?  It can grow 40 to 60 feet tall.

Arizona Saguaro Giant Cactus
Saguaro Cactus on Mica Mountain
60 foot Saguaro Cactus plant
A Tall Saguaro Cactus

Below are Saguaro cacti at the bottom of Mica Mountain in Saguaro National Park.

Mica Mountain Saguaro National Park

Saguaro cactus roots are only 4-6 inches deep and travel out as far from the plant as it is tall. There is one deep tap root that extends down into the ground.

A Saguaro Cactus can gather enough water through its remarkable root system, during a significant rain, to last a year!

holes in big cactus
Holes in Saguaro Cactus for birds nest

Why are there holes in the Saguaro Cactus?  The gilded flicker and Gila woodpecker excavate nest cavities inside the saguaro’s pulpy flesh.

Birds nesting in the Arizona Saguaro Cactus

Cactus Wrens are common birds that live in the holes (nests) of the Saguaro Cactus.

red fruit of cactus
Saguaro Cactus Flowers bloom, then turn to fruit

When a saguaro reaches 35 years of age it begins to produce flowers.

white flower on cactus arizona
Saguaro cactus Bloom – Flower

A Saguaro can only be fertilized from a different cactus – cross pollination.  Only a few bloom each night awaiting to be pollinated and close by late morning.

pollinated cactus flower to fruit
red fruit on Saguaro Cactus
dead saguaro cactus ribs
A living and dead Saguaro Cactus.

Because the major part of a desert saguaro cactus is made up of water, an adult plant may weigh 6 tons or more. This tremendous weight is supported by a circular skeleton of inter-connected, woody ribs.

After the saguaro dies its wood ribs can be used to build roofs, fences, and parts of furniture.  The holes that birds nested in are called saguaro boots.

holes in cactus in Arizona
Saguaro Boot used by Native American

Native Americans used saguaro boots as water containers.

200 year old tall saguaro cactus
Saguaro Cactus next to a biker to compare the size

Saguaro branches normally begin to appear when the cactus reaches 50 to 70 years of age.

The average life span of a saguaro is approximately 175 years of age.  Experts have estimated that a Saguaro Cactus with more than 5 arms can be 200 years old.

nurse tree for saguaro cactus
Yellow Palo Verde Tree is a nurse tree

Young saguaro cacti can be very hard to find because they grow under the protection of a “nurse tree”.  The nurse tree releases nitrogen in the soil which the Saguaros and other desert cacti use to grow healthy and strong.

Saguaros sometimes grow in odd shapes or forms. The growing tip of the cactus occasionally produces a fan-like form which is referred to as crested or cristate.

rare arizona cactus
Cristate Saguaro Cactus

These crested saguaro cacti, Carnegia gigantea forma cristata, are rare.  Biologists are not sure why these Saguaros grow this fan-like shape.

Fan like shaped cactus rare
Crested, Cristate, Fan-like Saguaro Cactus from AZ
crested cristate cactus in Tucson Phoenix
rare Saguaro in Tucson

Arizona has strict regulations about the harvesting, collection or destruction of  The Arizona Saguaro Cactus. It is illegal to harm a Saguaro in Arizona. During building or construction, precautions must be taken to move every saguaro that may be affected.

Purple, Yellow, and Red Lantana are some of the best drought resistant plants

Lantana is the best heat resistant plant that can add a punch of color to any flower bed. Lantana flowers come in a variety of orange, white, pink, yellow, purple, red and bi-color options.

These hardy plants are native to tropical regions of Africa and here in the Americas.  Lantana is a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants in the VERBENA family, Verbenaceae.

yellow and red flowers bush
Lantana mounds and shrubs with continuous flowers

Depending on where you live and the type grown, Lantana plants can be treated as annuals or perennials.

Verbena, Lantana, requires heat to do well, so plant them where they will get plenty of sunWell-drained soil is a must, as Lantana won’t tolerate wet roots.

yellow lantana to attract butterflies
yellow colors of Lantana plants
  • More nurseries seem to sell Lantana plants by color and not by name.
best drought and heat resistant plants
Lantana shrubs and mounds

Trailing are the more popular low-growing, spreading types of Lantana, VerbenaPurple trailing Lantana looks beautiful cascading over walls or in hanging baskets.

  • New Gold Lantana – has deep yellow flowers
perrenial flowering plant
Texas New Gold Lantana
  • Dallas Red or Texas Flame Lantana – has red, yellow and orange flowers
Irene species of Lantana plants
Red Orange Yellow Lantana species in the Verbena plant family
  • Lantana shrubs with pink and light yellow flowers is called Pinkies Lantana or Confetti.
plants to attract butterflies
pink and yellow Lantana

Can you grow Lantana in containers?  You bet!  Lantana does well in pots that are in a sunny location.

pink camara shrub lantana flowering
Lantana Camara Plant, called Confetti Lantana

Are you looking for low maintenance plants that are drought resistantLantana is a good choice that is worth a try!

color ideas for your garden
red and yellow flowering Lantana next to oleander bushes

Lantanas are planted in spring once the threat of frost has ended.  These flowering plants love warm temperatures so growth may be slow at first.

grow Lantana heat tolerant plants
Trailing Purple Lantana in containers

Do you want to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your gardenLantana flowers are one of the best choices for attracting butterflies.

Heat resistant tolerant flowering plant
Flowering Purple Trailing Lantana

When should I water my Lantana, Verbena plants?  On average the ground Lantana need a good soaking twice a week. A good indicator is the leaves.

Lantana growing in containers may need to be watered more depending on the temperature.

flowering plants for borders
Very hardy Gold Lantana is great for borders

If your Lantana is wilting, then water it but try not to get water on the leaves.  The sun can burn Lantana leaves that have water on them.

The stems of your Lantana are HOLLOW so overwatering will cause your Lantana roots to rot.

Mandevilla on a Trellis – Arizona Desert Garden

The MANDEVILLA vine is growing well.  This Mandevilla plant is native to Central and South America – named after Henry Mandeville (1773-1861), a British diplomat and gardener.

Mandevilla, also known as Brazilian jasmineDipladenia,  is a flowering tropical plant that originated in the hills above Rio de Janeiro.

Mandevilla up a trellis front door
Mandevilla, dipladenia vines in containers, trellis

Mandevillas develop spectacular flowers in warm climates. They are perfect here in the hot desert Arizona garden. One of our secrets for cultivating this luscious pink variety (they come in white, red and yellow) is the part shade design.

**We purchased the 4 trellises from Home Depot, bent them slightly to fit the arch and then screwed them together.

An important part of Mandevilla care is the light it receives. The Mandevilla vines need some shade. We used 4 large plastic garden trellises by the front door as you can see in the photo. Mandevilla plants love bright indirect or filtered sunlight, but will get burned in full sun especially this Arizona sun.

Trellis by door for Mandevilla Vines, Bougainvilla
Mandevilla Vines in Arizona

Mandevillas are a vine and will need some type of support, we used garden ties and tape to help train it along the trellis.

Some say the Mandevilla Vine is not a Perennial plant because it will NOT survive if temperatures reach below 50 degrees.  BUT this past winter Southern Arizona reached down to the 30’s and as you can see this beautiful plant is thriving and full of pink flowers. Mandevillas have brought tropical flair to our Arizona front yard and desert garden.

Mandellia plant in pot container
Arch Trellis with Mandevilla and Bougainvillea VINES in pots

Mandevilla plants are critter proof – squirrels and packrats leave this plant alone!

Mandevilla plant in pots
Dipladenia, Mandevilla Plants Vines

There are over 100 species of Mandevilla plants.  The blooms start out as a lighter color and get darker as they age.

Mandevilla Vine in containers Trellis by door
Mandevilla Vine growing in a pot, climbing a trellis

Red Salvia is # 3 – in the top Ten Heat Resistant plants for the Arizona garden

Multitudes of people love Salvia.  These Salvia plants, better known as Sage or SCARLET sage, are indigenous to nearly all continents.

Most varieties of Salvia are heat resistant and drought tolerant along with providing colorful flowers that bloom lavishly.

Salvia varieties of sage
Red Salvia sage in pots, containers
drought tolerant red salvia
Red Sage, Scarlet Sage plants in containers

This plant is easy to grow and Salvias furnish over 900 species; offering amazing potential for your garden!  The lush green leaves of the Salvia plant are so attractive that this Sage looks handsome even when not in bloom.

heat tolerant plant salvia
growing salvia

Salvia is a member of the Lamiaceae or Labiatae family; the MINT family.  Hot temperatures are a considerable concern for our Arizona gardens and Red Salvia loves the heat!

Salvia splendens, Salvia coccinea, Salvia darcyi, Red Salvia, or commonly referred to as Scarlet Sage are hardy, impressive plants and our favorite choice because of their lovely red blooms.   These Red Salvia are not edible like the sage in your kitchen.

red salvia in container
growing Salvia in a pot

Like most Salvia, the fragrant foliage is deer and small critter-resistant.  One of our Scarlet Sage, RED SALVIA, gardens is growing in the open desert and available to all wildlife.  In the past several years, we can report that our desert sage was devoured 1 time by JAVELINA but has been left alone ever since.  Most likely the Salvia made them ill.

red salvia darci
red salvia is a heat resistant plant

A location with full sun is the best choice for most salvia varieties but some are shade tolerant.  Our Salvia located in part shade did not make it through the winter; on the other hand, the salvia plants in sunny locations come back year after year.

squirrel proof plants salvia
Salvia sage plants are critter proof

When the flowers are spent the Salvia will self-sow its seeds! Take a look at the photo below. No worries about Salvia being intrusive:  you can easily transplant the seedlings or share them with friends.  Simply pull up your unwanted plants.

baby salvia seedlings
salvia seeds itself

Sometimes called Autumn Sage, Red Salvia blooms continually from spring through fall. A garden plant “must have” that is perennial and hardy in Tucson and Phoenix.

Arizona red salvia in a pot
growing salvia in containers

Can you grow Salvia in pots and containers?  Absolutely! We have several different pots with gorgeous Scarlet Sage blooming throughout the yard.  Our favorite color of Salvia for our garden is red but many cultivars offer pastel blooms such as pinks and blues.

The main difference with growing Salvia in containers is:  1)  the plants need to be watered more often      2)  several of the small shrubs needed replaced after winter

red salvia in Arizona
salvia, Scarlet Sage plants in containers

The abundant showy flowers produce a good amount of nectar making them attractive to hummingbirds and some people have named salvia: HUMMINGBIRD SAGE.

red salvia plant seeds for finches
salvia plants attract small birds

Goldfinches and other birds visit the Salvia plant to pick out the tiny brown seeds hidden in the calyces.

garden plants to attract birds
birds eat salvia seeds

Deadheading Salvia encourages more blooms and more birds!  It can be so fun watching the Goldfinches pick out the seeds.  Salvia plants can get pretty tall and unshapely.  Prune the salvia stalks back for fresh growth and new blooms!  We trim often to keep a fuller shrub and nice shape.

red salvia desert garden plant
salvia, Red Hot Sally Sage varieties
colors of salvia heat resistant plants
red and blue salvia plants

Hardy Salvia has been a jewel in our garden and definitely worth a try. 🙂

desert plant with red flowers
Red Salvia, Salvia darcyi

 

Grow your Bougainvillea Plant in containers and pots. They LOVE IT !!

Will my Bougainvillea plant grow in a container?  Yes and it will be a very happy plant.  Bougainvilleas do great in most types of pots and containers.  These plants are not easy to transplant so make sure the pot you choose is big enough to last the Bougainvillea for years to come.

Although they like their roots crowded in a container, Bougainvilleas do not like standing water.  Make sure your pot has good drainage so the Bougainvillea does not get root rot.

Bougainvillea flowering bush shrub
Growing Bougainvillea in large pots

Fill your container with potting soil and place the bougainvillea plant inside.  Find a sunny location and it will be easy to keep your Bougainvillea happy and healthy.

growin Bougainvillea in pots
Bougainvillea plants on your patio

Bougainvilleas have beautiful red, pink and purple colored bracts, which are specialized leaves that contain the plant’s white slender flowers.

Bougainvillea plants can grow rather large so they must be kept pruned in pots and containers.  You can train your Bougainvillea to grow up a trellis or in the shape of a tree.

growing bougainvilleas shrubs
Pink Bougainvillea thriving in a large container

During the winter, Bougainvillea plants can be most striking and provide gardens with abundant color.  Winter is when Bougainvillea Vines and Plants reach their peak color.

heat resistant plants Bougainvillia magenta blooms
Bougainvillias are tropical plants, magenta flowers, heat tolerant

The small heart shaped bracts of the Bougainvillea are quite delicate to the touch, and are crinkly in appearance.

can I grow bougainvilleas in containers
Bougainvillea potted plant growing up a trellis

How long will a Bougainvillea plant display their color?  The length of time depends on how much sun and heat it receives and how healthy the Bougainvillea plant is.

Typically, a healthy Bougainvillea will bloom for about 3 weeks.

Bougainvilleas love sun and more sun.  They are heat tolerant and the hotter the better.  At the very minimum Bougainvilleas need at least 5 hours of direct sunlight.

Desert flowering vines
Bougainvillea pink leaves and white flowers

Supply your Bougainvillea with regular monthly fertilization.  Nitrogen and phosphates are critical to flowering.  One of the best Bougainvillea fertilizers I’ve come across so far is BOUGAIN.

Pink flowers on Bougainvillea plants are leaves
large containers to grow Bougainvillea Plants

You can prune your Bougainvillea any time during the year because it does not affect bloom initiation.  If you want the Bougainvillea to grow up, then prune the outer branches.  If you want your Bougainvillea to grow out, then prune the new growth.  Trim your Bougainvillea drastically before bringing it inside for winter.

Bougainvillea tree plants
Bougainvilleas blooming in pots

Bougainvillea plants and vines have a BLOOM CYCLE followed by a rest cycle whether you trim them or not.

I recommend a little trim or pinching at the end of each Bougainvillea bloom cycle as it promotes more budding for the next one.  Our plants just ended a bloom cycle so I will be trimming Bougainvilleas this week.

Pruning Desert Bird of Paradise bushes and shrubs

flowering desert shrubs fern leaves Texas
AZ TX Desert Bushes with Red Orange Flowers fern leaves

When should you prune desert bird of paradise shrubs?

Caesalpinia pulcherrima plant with red flowers fern leaves
Red Bird of Paradise shrubs orange flowers and fern leaves in the AZ TX desert

Pruning your Red Bird of Paradise,  Caesalpinia pulcherrima , which is what I have, should be in late winter or early spring.

Arizona bushes with red flowers
Red Bird of Paradise is sometimes called Mexican Bird of Paradise

I pruned mine a few weeks ago with a sharp pair of garden sheers. Many people cut these plants almost to the ground. I don’t, I prune my Red Bird of Paradise bushes about 18 inches from ground level.

Red Bird of Paradise cutting
Trimming Caesalpinia pulcherrima – pruning desert Bird of Paradise bushes

Red, Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise bushes, trees, and shrubs thrive in dry conditions; once established, they are drought tolerant plants, with fern looking leaves blooming with orange, red or yellow flowers.

Texas shrubs with orange red flowers
Red Desert Bird of Paradise, drought tolerant plants
bushes with bean pods orange flowers
Red Bird of Paradise shrub in AZ TX CA Mexico

The Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise need very little pruning.

Caesalpinia gilliesii is a drought tolerant desert shrub
Yellow Bird of Paradise has red stamens and yellow flowers

Caesalpinia gilliesii, or sometimes called Yellow Bird of Paradise or Desert Bird of Paradise is a shrub that has been naturalized in Texas;  planted as to give an effect of wild growth and may some year be considered native in the rest of the southwestern US.  In the photo below see the yellow bird of paradise, Caesalpinia gilliesii.

TX bush with yellow flowers and bean pods
Yellow flowering Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia gilliesii

This yellow flowering desert shrub has clusters of beautiful yellow flowers with long red stamens.  The Yellow Bird of Paradise is a fast growing, upright shrub that is originally from Argentina.  Pruning your Yellow Bird of Paradise bush will encourage dense growth.

Caesalpinia gilliesii mistaken for Mexican Bird of Paradise
Yellow blooming Bird of Paradise desert bush in AZ TX CA

Yellow Bird of Paradise is drought tolerant and very durable, also cold and heat tolerant. Exposure to full sun is best for ALL Bird of Paradise Plants.   The yellow bird of paradise shrub is toxic.  

drought tolerant desert bush shrub
Yellow Bird of Paradise bush with Red Stamens bean pods

This Hardy Bird of Paradise shrub can grow to the height of 10 ft.

In the early Spring, prune to remove dead or damaged stems.  In the summer water your Yellow Bird of Paradise every week.  Water it deeply to stimulate an effective root system and tap-root.

The Mexican Bird of Paradise bush can be pruned and trained into a small tree, see photo below.

Bushes with round leaves yellow flowers desert
Mexican Bird of Paradise bush yellow flowers round leaves
desert shrub with yellow flowers in Arizona
Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Bird of Paradise with yellow flowers round leaves

In the photo ABOVE see the yellow flowers and rounded shape of the leaves on the Mexican Bird of Paradise bush or tree.

Caesalpinia mexicana yellow flowers
Mexican Bird of Paradise tree shrub with yellow flowers

Whether you pick the Yellow, Mexican or Red Bird of Paradise shrubs or trees,  you are certainly choosing a winner for your desert garden!

shrubs with bean pods red flowers
Desert bush with orange red yellow flowers, bean pods

LANTANA made #2 for the top 10 heat resistant plants in Arizona

Lantana plants and shrubs are one of our favorites for our desert garden and front yard.  I recommend this flowering plant to people who want color in their landscaping. Not only is our Arizona Lantana perennial but it is also a low maintenance plant and easy to grow.

In some cooler locations Lantana plants are annual; but places that do NOT get freezing weather will have new colorful blooms every spring.

Lantana plant in pots
Texas Gold Lantana plant

You will find Lantana is inexpensive to buy, easy to find and takes the desert heat!

The entire shrub can be covered with multi colored Lantana flowers even in the worst triple digit temperatures.

lantana for desert landscaping
white trailing lantana in xeriscape yard

How many Lantana varieties are there?    There are about 150 species / varieties of Lantana.  This perennial flowering plant is in the Verbena Family, Verbenaceae.

With so many colors to choose from your Lantanas can add vibrant flowers all season long.

Lantana shrubs
White, Purple, Red Lantana mound

Some species of Lantana change color as they mature.

large lantana mound
Lantana plants grow into shrubs and mounds

The flower clusters on lantana plants are called umbels.

verbena mixed with lantana
Confetti Lantana and Purple Verbena plants

Some popular Lantana variety names are:  Irene, Red Bandana, Radiation, Confetti, Ham ‘n Eggs, Texas New Gold, Dallas Red, Trailing Purple, Christine, and many more….

varieties of lantana
Camara Lantana Plant in containers

Lantana seems to have no problems surviving on little moisture and soaking up unyielding sun.  When watering your lantana try NOT to get the leaves wet but water at the base of the plant.  This will prevent the plant from being sun burned.

If I see the leaves wilting I water immediately, soaking the Lantana well to promote deeper, stronger roots.

Red lantana mound
Lantana plants attract butterflies

Can you grow Lantana in pots and containers? Absolutely and lantana loves it!

We have potted lantana all over the yard.  It does take a little more effort to care for lantana in containers but it is worth it.

the best lantana heat resistant
Texas Gold Lantana grows well in containers

My potted Lantana seems to need more watering than my ground Lantana.

I do not let them dry out completely.  Some people do and it works fine for them but I choose not to.

grow Lantana plants
Trailing Lantana growing in pots and containers

Our Purple Trailing Lantana spills over nicely in the above large pot.

camara shrub lantana flowering confetti
Lantana Camara Plant, Confetti

When do I prune my Lantana?  Give your Lantana a good pruning in the spring to remove the old growth and prevent the extra woodiness.

Water and lightly fertilize newly trimmed Lantana plants and they will return to bloom quickly.  Lantana does not need much fertilizer.

trimming lantana bushes
a good pruning helps Lantana plants

When transplanting your Lantana, gently loosen the roots and shake off the excess dirt.  Old soil does not help your Lantana plants.

Place it in the hole you made and backfill with healthy topsoil.

soil for lantana plants
Easy to grow Lantana

Most animals avoid Lantana flowers and leaves.

is lantana toxic poisonous
poisonous leaves and woody stems of Lantana

Although Lantana is considered poisonous the RIPE Lantana berries are a delicacy for many birds.

yellow gold lantana growing
Lantana is a Deer Resistant, Critter Proof plant
bush with yellow and red flowers
Texas New Gold Lantana Flower

Growing Lantana in pots is so easy.   Choose your size pot or container.  Then have a fun time deciding on your Lantana colors.  Stick to one or mix them up.

Remember to gently shake off the old dirt from the Lantana roots before you place it in its new home.    Potted plants need more watering especially in the hot sun.

Always water at the base of the plants and not the leaves.  An exception would be if the Lantana plant was not in direct sun.

cheap desert plants that last
Perennial Yellow Gold Lantana in our Arizona garden

The temperatures here in the Sonoran Desert frequently reach over 100 degrees so I add mulch to every plant in our yard.  Mulch really helps here in Arizona.

Native Arizona flowering plants
Yellow Lantana in our drought tolerant garden

Lantana is a magnet for hummingbirds and butterflies.  These perfect desert plants give you flowering color all season long.  That is a lot of butterflies!

plants to attract butterflies
Butterflies like Lantana flowers

Lantana will suffer from frost damage so cover them up during cold winter nights.  Prune the damage from the Lantana in the spring and they may come back.

Lantana potted plants
Marvelous Praying Mantis with New Gold Lantana
Arizona bush with orange red flowers
Potted Purple Trailing Lantana next to our Red Bird of Paradise shrub

Lantana likes full sun, and isn’t picky about the type of soil it will grow in.

Arizona Lantana drought tolerant
Purple Flowers on our potted Lantana

This is precisely why Lantana is a large part of my desert garden.

large Lantana Shrubs
different Lantana species plants

Not only are Lantanas resistant to extreme temperatures but also drought tolerant.

Some of our Lantana shrubs are growing in unfenced areas and the desert animals leave the plants and Lantana flowers alone.

red orange lantana
landscaping with Lantana plants

Lantana is deciduous meaning it drops all leaves in the winter.

drought and heat tolerant plant
Lantana plants do well in pots

If Lantana plants outgrow their assigned space, they tolerate trimming back well during the growing season.

Lantana flowers in a desert yard
Yellow flowering Lantana containers

Lantana plants and dogs – Our dogs have no interest in our many Lantana plants, flowers or leaves at all.

Irene species of Lantana plants
Red Orange Yellow Lantana
lantana bush shrub
Radiation, Yellow and Red Bandana Lantana Varieties
Red flowering bush lantana
Radiation species of Lantana

The woody stems on the Lantana plants are especially tough and durable and have been used for weaving.

What is the best way to propagate Lantana?   Dividing the roots in the winter when the Lantana plant is dormant is the easiest way to propagate.

Soaps, insecticides and common pest treatments can kill Lantana plants.  On the rare occasions that our Lantanas have pest problems, I give them a trim and all is well.

 

The daisy-like bush, Euryops are # 4 – top Ten Heat Resistant plants our Arizona garden

Do you want a flowering plant that can take the hot heat and last through the winter?  Euryops are low maintenance and good on the budget!  I waited over a year before writing about this daisy like plant so I could document what animal critters would eat our Euryops.

shrub with daisy flowers in Arizona
Daisy like bush that is perennial

It is a pleasure to state Euryops are CRITTER proof;  NOT even the Javelina ate our daisy bushes!  Replacing desert plants can become costly; therefore this Euryops cultivar VIRIDIS rates HIGH on our list!

drought heat tolerant daisy plants
bushes with yellow daisy flowers, Euryops

Euryops is a genus in the Asteraceae family –  Daisy family.  The Green leaved variety is Euryops pectinatus Viridis.  This robust heat resistant plant is native mostly to rocky sites in southern Africa.

low cost drought tolerant plants
Euryops are heat tolerant daisy-like plants

They produce cheerful yellow daisy flower heads from fern-like leaves.  Euryops are perennial and a very hardy plant, bush or shrub.

heat resistant daisy bush
yellow daisy flower of the Euryops bush

When winter comes to the Arizona desert, our Euryops still look amazing while other desert plants go dormant.  This daisy bush is cold tolerant to 20 degrees F or -7 Celsius.   Plant your daisy shrub in a sunny location that is key!

Yellow is the only flower color, but it’s a bright, sunny yellow bloom that enlivens your garden in the winter. 🙂

heat resistant desert plants
Euryops look attractive next to Brittlebush

Because Euryops are an evergreen, perennial plant they are an ideal choice for flower beds and borders.

drought heat tolerant plants
Euryops daisy like plant

Euryops will tolerate being cut back quite hard after flowering or if you want them to develop some height give them a light pruning.

drought heat tolerant plants
Euryops daisy like plant

Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system.

**Euryops Viridis generally keep its deep green color leaves even in the heat of summer, although lower leaves may become brown and need to be removed.  Once the yellow flowers have faded, trim off the dried ones to help encourage the Euryops to produce more blooms!

drought tolerant arizona plant
yellow flowers of Euryops shrub
  • Water Needs — water regularly; do not OVERWATER
  • Flowers are good for cutting and displaying in vases
  • Perennial and Evergreen
  • Loves to grow in containers and pots

We had 2 healthy Euryops planted in large containers that died over the winter.  The reason was the shade in their location.  Lesson learned:  when planting Euryops pick an area with the most sun!

Euryops bush with yellow daisy flowers
heat resistant daisy shrubs

This jubilant plant tolerates drought well; but doesn’t mind if it gets regular water.  The daisy blooms give personality to cacti in Xeriscape yards.  Euryops are frost tolerant down to USDA zone 8.

daisy flowering plants in containers
Euryops daisy plant in pots

Even without flowers, the feathery leaves of Euryops give the garden interest and a sense of lushness. The Viridis cultivar has deep green leaves, while the Euryops Munchkin cultivar has gray-green leaves.

best desert winter plants with color
Euryops are critter proof plants

Euryops have it all!  This foolproof plant is  HEAT, DROUGHT and ANIMAL resistant.

If you want to add color to your winter garden, consider Euryops!  This easy on your budget, yellow daisy bush is hardy and flowers through winter while planted in a sunny location.

Propagation:

Euryops stem cuttings root reasonably easy.  Summer is the best time to take cuttings.  You can also allow seed heads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds.

*HONEYSUCKLES made #5 in Top HEAT Resistant Plants

Philodendron made # 6 in my top Ten Heat Resistant plants for Arizona

Philodendrons are native to the tropical Americas and are a rain forest plant.  With close to 1,000 species of philodendrons you have many choices of the best foliage plants available today.  Heat resistant, oh yes!  Philodendrons do amazing in southern Arizona even with temperatures reaching over 110 degrees.

philodendron
Philodendron bipinnatifidum plant

One of the best houseplants that adds a delight to any room is the philodendron.  You can choose from a climbing or non-climbing variety.  Our Elephant Ear, philodendron bipinnatifidums, are growing in pots and containers but in the spring I will be planting several in soil next to trees that have regular irrigation.  Philodendrons like water because they are a species of the rain forest.

heat resistant plant
Elephant Ear Philodendron plant growing in Arizona

The genus Philodendron is in the family Araceae with each species having its own leaf size, color or shape that gives it a unique personality.

climbing philodendron
climbing philodendron

Propagating from climbing philodendrons is quite easy.  Simply gather a stem cutting and place it in a glass of water.

In the rain forest, most Philodendron species live on the trunks or branches of trees and do not need soil to survive.  Those tree-dwelling species are known as epiphytes or hemiepiphytes and are plants that live upon another plant.

What is an epiphyte?  This type of plant begins as a seed placed on branches by a rain forest animal and grows attached to the host tree.  A hemi-epiphyte is a seed that was dropped on the ground, begins to grow and then finds a host tree to climb.  A simple example would be if the seed came from a bird’s droppings…

The Tree Philodendrons are found largely in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay.

For more in-depth facts and information on philodendrons, this site is excellent:   http://www.exoticrainforest.com/Grow%20or%20Growing%20Philodendrons.html

Philodendron is heat tolerant
Philodendron bipinnatifidum is heat tolerant

Try not to plant your philodendrons in too large of a container.  They actually grow better when their roots are slightly cramped.  Re-pot your philodendron when the roots begin to compact into a ball.

philodendron flower
philodendron flower

Philodendron bipinnatifidum, Elephant Ear philodendron, does produce flowers but it can take more than 10 years…  Flowers are rarely produced on philodendrons that are grown indoors.

To keep your philodendron clean; mist the leaves every few days.  Misting is another way to make this tropical plant feel like it is in the jungle.

Philodendron yellow leaves
Philodendron yellow-brown leaves

The leaves on my philodendron bipinnatifidum started turning yellow and brown.  Originally, I placed this plant in too much direct sunlight.  After trimming the yellowing leaves the philodendron was moved to a partly shaded area where it could not be burned by our Arizona sun.

I can safely say this philodendron plant has no insect problems.  If you are looking for a low maintenance plant that has large green leaves and gives a tropical feel to your garden… Elephant Ear philodendrons may be the right choice for you.

Red Geraniums made # 7 in my top Ten Heat Resistant plants for southern Arizona

Zonal geraniums can last for years with the right growing conditions.  The red geraniums pictured in this article are the first plant my husband and I acquired when we were married.    They are very unique and add a velvety, radiant color to our desert garden even with the record-breaking 2012 temperatures.

This red flower is called a zonal geranium.  What is a zonal geranium?  Zonal geraniums are the genus Pelargoniums, and are NOT true geraniums. This species of flowering plants work well in Arizona and Texas because they are drought resistant, perennial and heat tolerant.  Zonal geraniums originated from South Africa and have become very popular as bedding and container plants.

Important fact:  Geraniums, Pelargoniums, are poisonous to dogs and cats.  If your pet eats a geranium contact your local veterinarian right away.

Zonal Geranium in Arizona
planted zonal geraniums in Arizona

I’m always on the lookout for a plant that adds a softness to a thorny, spiky desert garden.  Amazingly, a red geranium can thrive almost as well as a cactus.  We have several throughout our Arizona yard that are either in full sun or sparse shade.  All of our zonal geraniums are doing well; but, the ones with semi shade have larger leaves and more flowers.

zonal geraniums bedding

Caring for geraniums is easy:

  • They love the sun but do well in sparse shade especially with high temperatures
  • Plant Pelargoniums when there is no danger of frost, they do not like the cold
  • In the fall plants may be dug up and brought indoors by a sunny window away from your dogs and cats
  • Water geraniums when the top 2 inches of the soil feels dry
  • Zonal geraniums are critter proof and virtually insect free 🙂
heat resistant geraniums
hanging basket of Red Geraniums in Arizona

Pelargoniums are low-maintenance and a great choice for xeriscape yards.  Grow your geraniums from seed or plant cuttings.

If your geranium has yellow or red leaves it is experiencing stress in some way.  The most common causes of red or yellow leaves are:

  1. your geranium – pelargonium is over-watered
  2. phosphorus deficiencies, are you fertilizing?  If it has gotten cooler at night and the temperature drops below 55 your geranium will not be able to absorb trace minerals.
  3. another possibility is too much sun
  4. or planted too close together

Too diagnose the problem simply look at the exact conditions your plant is growing in.

Red Geranium is a zonal geranium
Pelargonium is a zonal geranium

Even with the best of care a few leaves will inevitably turn yellow; simply remove them along with spent flowers.

In the fall temperatures drop and red leaves on pelargoniums are a sign that it is time to move indoors or to take cuttings from annual cultivars.

October is barely here and I’m already daydreaming about plans for a colorful, lush spring heat-resistant garden.