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

May 11, 2013

Where to plant flowers in your tropical paradise in the desert

Flowers need two things, lots of sun and lots water. Getting that combination to work in the desert is a challenge, but it can be done.

Normally here in The Tropical Paradise I look for shade. Most of my plants prefer it, and so does my dog! But flowering plants need sunshine to bloom. Unfortunately, sunny areas in the desert dry out very quickly.

In the photo you can see what I am working on right now to solve that problem. Take a look at the slope, and also at the rocks, because that is what is making this area work. This area is facing west, so it gets a lot of sun. The shadow you see back there is gone by late morning (it's now about 10 am) and this area gets many hours of sunshine. Personally, I like bulbs, such as the amaryllis you see there in flower, and the iris in the foreground. But this type of environment is what all flowers need, including annuals. Generous water and lots of sunshine.

Of course, my main concern is my cycads (that's the plant up on top of the slope), so they sit up on the top of the slope and get good drainage. The turf is artificial so I have concerns there. Right at the bottom of the slope, where the rocks are, gets the runoff, which remains comparatively wet. And the rocks help "dam" the water a bit, too, I've discovered.

To make iris and amaryllis bloom, they need to stay continuously wet. They are practically water plants! Oh yeah, did I mention that they also need a lot of sunshine? A difficult combination, but worth the trouble.
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