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

April 6, 2014

Creating a tropical look in Phoenix, Arizona

I love the look of a tropical garden. But I would never want to live in the tropics, where it's hot and humid. And in my twenties I lived in Southern California, where the weather is nice to plants, but it's crowded and expensive for people. My solution was to create a tropical oasis in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Phoenix, Arizona area is not humid. And because of that, most tropical plants don't do well here. And, since it gets so hot in the summer, it surprises a lot of people that cold is a limiting factor here, too. It gets much colder here in the desert in the winter than it ever does in the tropics, or even in a Mediterranean climate such as Southern California. And did I mention that it's a lot less crowded here than in San Diego? And that you can buy a house here for a fraction of what it would cost there?

But I really don't like desert landscaping. I like lush, tropical landscaping. And if you think it can't be done, well, that's the point of this blog. I've been experimenting here for a long time now, and I focus on my successes, because, well, if I focused on my failures, it would be depressing. Yeah, lots of stuff doesn't grow here. But when it does, it's amazing.

Something that does grow well here, as you can see, is Canna. These cannas were planted about four years ago from six bulbs (rhizomes) that I bought from +Easy to Grow Bulbs, Inc. . The type is Tropicanna. I've seen them at Home Depot nowadays, but really get some decent bulbs. Nah, they don't pay me to say that. I just like that they sell this stuff, and give good advice, too.

For palm trees, get pygmy date palms. They're more expensive than regular palm trees, and they stay smaller. You really don't want a full-sized palm tree in your suburban yard - it will just be a telephone pole in a couple of years. Don't plant ferns, plant cycads.

My favorite tropical oasis is my backyard here in the desert. The air in clear and dry, and feels great. I provide water to my plants because it hardly ever rains here. This is a great place to be. If someone tells you it can't be done, show them this blog, or your own garden!
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