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



December 8, 2016

The best plants for the winter in Phoenix, Arizona


Winter in Phoenix is glorious. Even though I've lived there for decades, every winter astonishes me. The sun is warm, the air is cool. It would be great weather for golf, if I did that anymore. And it's great weather for plants, if you know what to get.

When I started designing my garden, over twenty years ago, I wanted it to look great for my winter visitors, as well as looking great during the summer (which in Phoenix seems to be most of the year!).

I'm proud of living in Arizona, and a lot of my winter visitors are from California, and I certainly don't want them to see a bunch of dead stuff, and cactus, and rocks. I realize that having a backyard full of dead stuff, cactus, and rocks is very popular in Phoenix, but it's such a shame - there's so much that grows, and looks great!

The most important thing to know about winter in Phoenix is that it's annual flower time. That is, the flowers that you would normally plant in April in Minneapolis, you plant in November and December (even January!) in Phoenix. And I'm talking about all of the big favorites, petunias, pansies, that sort of thing. If it's an annual that grows well in the spring in Minneapolis, it will grow well in the winter in Phoenix. I just planted several tiny ones that you can see in the foreground, next to the iris.

And speaking of iris, plant some bulbs! Daffodils and irises do the best. They bloom in February and are absolutely glorious. The only bulbs that don't do well in Phoenix are the kind that need to be chilled - it doesn't get cold enough in Phoenix for tulips (believe me, I've tried!).

Something I just discovered last year are fire sticks. That's the plant there that has the orange tips. It's a type of euphorbia, that grows great in the heat of the Phoenix summer, and is green then, but when the nights start cooling down, it starts to turn orangey-red. Very cool. You see them all over Phoenix.

By the way, the palm tree there in the background is a Mediterranean Fan Palm. They grow very slowly, take on a nice bushy shape, require very little maintance, and are completely unaffected by the hottest, and coldest, weather than Phoenix has.

So don't be staring at dead stuff, cactus, and rocks all winter in Phoenix. Get some plants into the ground, and have something to enjoy while you're sitting outside enjoying the beautiful weather!
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