There are quite a number of plants to use for low-water Phoenix landscaping, but they’re not all created equal. You want tough plants that look good year around to make your yard continually appealing, not just in summer or when they are blooming. Here are the best ones for year around beauty in xeriscape design for desert landscaping.
An excellent choice for providing winter greenery in your landscaping. Phoenix and Scottsdale homes will find Euphorbia rigida to be very low maintenance. This attractive plant has no thorns or spines, and while it doesn’t actually flower, the plant does produce colored bracts on the stem tips for seasonal interest in summer. Classed as a perennial, though in our climate it does not go dormant, it is great for spaces you need a handsome plant that is low growing. No shearing required to control its size, this desert landscaping plant matures to 2-feet high and 3-feet wide.
The blue-green foliage is a welcome color for landscape plantings and containers. It deals with full sun, but also grows well in part shade. Gopher Plant thrives in your yard with a good watering once a month, but when winter comes you only need to water it once and it will be fine until warmer weather arrives.
This rugged evergreen sub shrub is worthy of prominent placement in xeriscaping where you want a lot of color with very little water. Leucophyllum laevigatum is sometimes also called Cenzio. You’ll love the beauty this plant gives to your yard. It is fast growing and matures to 4-feet tall and 5-feet wide. Be mindful of it’s size when selecting the planting spot as this small shrub looses its beauty when people shear it. The plant is naturally softly rounded and perfectly suits a less formal landscape design, but can soften is used right in this type of setting too.
The blooms are lightly scented so chose a spot where you can enjoy this characteristic. Chihuahuan Sage flowers in summer and in the most delicious shade of light purple. The silvery blue-green foliage gives the blossoms even more color play, and look lovely in the months there are no flowers too. This plant flowers after it rains. More frequent watering gives you more blooming. It is at its best in full sun to a little filtered shade, but too much shade makes it look scraggly as it stretches to find more light.
Its always surprising that such an elegant, graceful plant is tough as nails. The only utilitarian thing about Hesperaloe parviflora is its cold and drought tolerant capabilities. The clumps of dark green upright leaves add a softly rounded shape to any Scottsdale or Phoenix landscape design naturally. It also matures to no more than 2-feet high and 3-feet wide, though the bloom stems are much taller. The fine texture is its secret for dealing with dryness and cold, and part of what makes it beautiful in a xeriscaped yard.
This evergreen plant has the most beautiful light red flowers. Wispy and colorful, the arching stems look great in any setting from formal to casual and can get 5-feet tall, but will never block your view. It starts blooming in early summer and continues for months.You’ll want to leave the bloom stems until the berries are spent for added landscape interest. The only other clipping needed is removing old dried leaves when they collapse to the ground. Red Yucca does well in full sun.
A sensational looking succulent some people might refer to as the Artichoke Agave or Century Plant is prized for its very blue silvered color accented with a dark spiny foliage edge and leaf tip. As a native of Arizona, it is perfectly suited to the climate around Phoenix and Scottsdale. Landscaping placement is always tricky with a plant as slow growing as this one. Some day it will grow 3-4 feet high and 4-5 feet wide, and shearing is not an option. This agave also take well to living in a container where it gives you instant impact just about anywhere in full sun to very light shade.
Hardy to 10 degrees, it will grow nicely in yards up to 7,000 feet elevation. While it is most prized for its unique form, chunky texture and those heavenly colored leaves – Agave parryi does flower. The blooms appear only one time in the plant’s life at some point between ten and 15 years. Bloom stems grow out of the center of each rosette. When the flowers open it looks like an exotic yellow pom pom tree.
Sometimes called a ‘Sotol’ or mistakenly identified as a yucca, Dasylirion wheeleri is a native of Arizona with great landscaping merit. It is an evergreen with a unique symmetrical shape and is cold tolerant to 10 degrees. A very low maintenance plant that needs only occasional water once established to keep them looking lush. They may be quite small when first planted, but will grow as tall as 4-5 feet high and wide. Take care in placing them. This isn’t a plant that you can shear to control it’s size.
Not prized for their bloom, Desert Spoon does flower. The flower stalks are very stately looking, but more sculptural than they are beautiful. The thick central bloom stems appear in mid to late summer, bearing tons of tiny white blooms clustered tightly near the top. The statuesque bloom stems reach 9-15 feet high and removing them when spent is about all the clipping you’ll need to do.
Hardy to 10 degrees, it will grow nicely in yards up to 7,000 feet elevation. The value in your landscaping is Desert Spoon’s unique form, chunky texture and those heavenly colored leaves. Not to forget it’s almost a plant-it-and-forget-it specimen.
Top photo courtesy of $pacemilk, CC 2.2.