Identify Hardy Desert Plants
Besides the obvious method of looking at the nursery pot tag, there is an alternative method for discovering which desert plants will be drought tolerant. You may find it interesting to know that nature has endowed plants with distinctive features that make it possible to sort them into probable growing condition hardiness. Perhaps, like animals, the leafy inhabitants of the planet have also developed certain physical traits that allow them to deal with elements of their native environment and survive.
Curiously enough, all those that do well here will neatly fit into one or more of the following descriptive appearances categories.
Stems and leaves are thick and fleshy:
Leaves that are coated and waxy:
- Yuccas – some such as Mojave Yucca
- Creosote Plant
- Cactus – some such as Beavertail Cactus
Leaves that are very fuzzy or densely covered with a hairy surface:
- Lamb’s Ears
Foliage that has a blue, silver or gray hue:
- Salvia or Sage
Long narrow leaves:
- Palo Verde
- Sago Palm
- Ornamental Grasses
- Desert Daisy
Leaves that prickly or have spines:
- Globe Thistle
This is just a short and partially sorted list of the flora diversity that we enjoy in our yards in this part of the Southwest. As you look around at the native desert plants as well as those that do nicely in a manicured, but low moisture requirements any Phoenix, Paradise Valley or Anthem landscape design – you instantly see that all of them fit neatly into these physical characteristics.
The reason that desert landscaping plants have these characteristics is to assist them in keeping all available moisture within the stems and leaves and to deflect the intense heat of summer in this part of the Desert Southwest. It is also why so many big leaved plants whose foliage consistency is thin and delicate do not thrive here in the desert. Their physical characteristics scream ‘must have consistent water availability’.
Still, it is possible to enjoy gardens in our courtyard or patio design featuring plants with different levels of water needs without being wasteful with our precious freshwater supply. The most effective way for any Southwest landscape design to maintain great beauty with minimal irrigation during the many dry months of our year is to amend the soil before planting each area. This controls the availability of moisture and assists the roots in always having the right drainage conditions. Most landscapers with good plant knowledge can create a xeriscape design that is 100% super drought-tolerant with plants that will flourish for many years around your home.