As with any climate, there are many lovely plants and blooms you can use in landscaping here in the Valley. But if you get really picky about the colors, you can come up with a really gorgeous Phoenix landscape design. Stick to two main colors, and a highlight, such as yellow or white. Focus on concentrating these colors intermittently everywhere.
Some people might look at coral and call it pink, and others would say it’s light orange. It’s really a blend of pink and orange, but not as pink as salmon. Being a warm shade, you’d want to use purple or blue as your other color, because in a color scheme cool colors balance warm – they compliment each other very attractively. So, what options do you have for putting coral in your landscaping?
Firstly, not all plant ‘color’ comes from flowers.
The Mexican Fire Barrel Cactus is a great example. The spines seen close up are pretty red and huge, but from a distance they create a hot coral halo around the plant. If you plant this cactus in clumps it gives you coral-presence when little to nothing is blooming. Not to worry about those spines not actually being coral, coral and red make a hot combo.
They are very slow growing, so be careful not to plant them where faster maturing plants will quickly block them from sight. In about 50 years, the Ferocactus pilosus var. pringlei might reach 6-feet tall and 18-inches wide. This cactus is hardy in Phoenix and blooms yellow in late summer to early fall – a little surprise accent that fits that ‘highlight’ category.
The image at the top of the page is a coral blooming Fish Hook Barrel Cactus. The technical name for this Sonoran Desert native is Ferocactus wislizenii, and it too is very slow growing, but will reach 10-feet tall in about 100 years, with a girth of about 30-inches. It’s a much larger specimen from the Ferocactus family with reddish spines for great year around color. But the texture is different with their curling tips that make the halo hug the fleshy trunk, a covering more like hair than spines. Also known as the Arizona Barrel Cactus, it too blooms in August – September.
Both these low water needs landscaping beauties do best in full sun.
Now, about those coral flowers…
As seen in the photo on the left below, Coral Aloe (Aloe striata) is absolutely stunning in bloom. This plant will definitely bring hot color to your Phoenix landscaping in winter. Though lovely at a distance, it’s even better planted where you can enjoy the dark coral stripes outlining each of the succulent’s ground-hugging leaves. Since it will only reach up to 2-feet tall when flowering, this is the perfect candidate for including in plantings that soften the edges of the patio.
Best grown in full to part sun with excellent drainage, but the more sun it gets, the more pink hazing the foliage will have. In part shade the leaves will be blue-green. Clump them in a way that will allow your plants to grow to their full 3-foot wide spread, or scatter them if it suits your overall vision. Though most plants are best in groups in landscape design, this one is definitely showy enough it can be a solitary specimen in the right spot. Because it’s so wonderfully drought tolerant, you can grow Coral Aloe in large containers too.
Fine textured and gracefully arching, Coral Fountain or Firecracker Plant is a welcome addition to any yard in the Valley.
The Latin name for this one is Russelia equisetiformis, seen in the right photo above. It’s evergreen to 25 degrees, and very hardy here. Should the temperature damage it above ground in winter, not to worry, the subshrub will quickly repair and grow back from the roots.
In full sun, the stems will adopt a reddish tint, heightening the coloring a bit. Flowering in spring and summer, this plant adds a lot of impact to your landscape display for weeks on end. It too is a drought tolerant selection that is a native of Mexico. It’s branches reach 4 to 5-feet long, but the pendulous nature of them fives you a plant that is really only about half that tall. Another great candidate close to your favorite patio chair, and does well in containers too. These are wonderful in raised beds where they can drape over the edge and cascade down the retainer wall.
So far, we’ve got coral notes in your landscape layout winter through fall, but there are more things you can add to beef up the infusion. There are a number of other cactus that bloom this color, and there are annuals that fit right into the flow too. Here’s one more beautiful option to add to your color-focused plant list…
Big and showy, the blooms on a tropical hibiscus will have lots of impact anywhere in your yard. Here in the Phoenix area, they bloom from mid-summer through fall, giving you weeks of delicious color. All day sun might not be the best planting location for a Coral Hibiscus though, the afternoon sun on lighter colored hibiscus blooms causes fading. So, position it where it has some protection from mid-afternoon on. It is a shrub that reaches up to 16-feet tall and 10-feet wide, so make sure it has room to mature. Conserving moisture in the soil to conserve on irrigating is important here – so keep it bush-formed rather than turning it into a tree.