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



June 24, 2015

Tropical-looking plants that can take the heat in Phoenix, Arizona


Dang, it's hot out there! It's June 24th, and as I write this, at 11 am, it's already 100 degrees here in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix. So, I probably won't be spending much time outdoors, but my plants have to!

Since I love the look of tropical landscaping, I've resisted planting cactus, or just having rocks. And while I've added some agaves, as you can see, I'm the happiest with my cycads. Those are the fern-looking things there. Or the things that look like little palm trees.

If you're not familiar with cycads, it's not surprising. I've had them here for twenty years, but I rarely see them in Phoenix. They tend to be plants that are owned by kind'a kooky collectors, some of which I'm proud to say are friends of mine.

The most common cycad is called the "sago palm". They're not really palms, nor are they ferns, but I really don't care. I just like the way that they look. The ones in the photo don't really have common names, so if you want them, you gotta speak a little Latin. They're dioon edules. I tell people that I could speak Latin when I was a kid - like Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Triceratops!

What you're looking at in the photo is a western exposure. That is, the shade back there is only in very early morning, and then it goes into the, uh, fires of h_ll. And I mean so hot that you can practically fry an egg on those rocks. And these plants do fine, and have been happy there for years.

Part of the reason they do better than common sago palms is their color, which is more bluish. This gives them more resistance to the heat. In fact, the edules have survived here where sago palms have died!

OK, I'll go walk out and take a peek, but believe me, I'm coming back in to the air conditioning real quick!

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