This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

May 8, 2013

The best place in the garden for tropical plants

The best place for tropical plants in Phoenix is where they will get afternoon shade. That is, along a wall that faces east. This is area is the "prime real estate" for these types of plants, as it gets morning sun, but good shade starting at about noon. You are looking at morning sun in the photo. It's 8 a.m.

Still, this is the desert, and there are some considerations. Even morning sun in the summer can be brutal, so you have to watch the shadows. I have re-developed this area many times in the past twenty years and waiting for some new growth on the dioon edule cycad which you see towards the foreground. Closer to you are some more drought-tolerant plants, only because the watering system doesn't reach that far. The watering system is designed to not go to areas where people use, so the garden is available for enjoyment 24/7, 365 days a year. No running away from sprinklers here just as you've sat down to read a book or begin quaffing a beer!

I bought this house with the idea of having a garden in mind. The backyard had to be on the eastern side of the property. That way, the worst of the hot sun hits the garage door, not the garden. Don't get me wrong, it still gets plenty hot here in the summer, but nothing compared to the "fires of hell" that the western side of the house gets. If your backyard is on the western side of your house, it's best for swimming pools, suntanning, and sunstroke, not a tropical paradise. If that is your situation, all of the shade cloth in the world won't help, you simply need to pick up your house and turn it around.

In addition to getting shade from the house, this particular piece of the garden gets shade from the tree that you see at left. Not all of the time, but as the sun gets higher in the sky, it will go into shade. That's why the area just a few feet north, that doesn't get shade from the tree, although it gets shade from the house, is not quite as "prime real estate". And another reason why this area is "prime real estate" is that the tree provides frost protection in the winter, too. It's all about location!
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