Desert Plants

Learn about several plant varieties and the planting information for each zone.

Mexican Fence Post

mexican fence post is an evergreen cactus

Evergreen cactus with ribbed columnar treelike green stems covered in thorns with pink nocturnal flowers

Plant in full sun in average soil that is well drained
Height: 5-12 feet; Width: 3 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 9-11:
Zones 2-8: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; grow as an annual or bring indoors in fall.
Zone 9: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established; may be damaged or killed in temperatures below 25.
Zone 10: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established.
Zone 11: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established.

Rosenka Bougainvillea

Evergreen sprawling shrub with orange brachts/flowers that fade to pink
Plant in full sun in average soil that is well drained
Fertilize regularly with water-based fertilizers
Height: 3-4 feet; Width: 4-6 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 9-11:
Zones 2-8: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; grow as an annual or bring indoors in fall.
Zone 9: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established; may be damaged or killed in temperatures below 25.
Zone 10: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established.
Zone 11: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established.

Narrow Leaf Variegated Agave

Evergreen succulent with variegated upright "spiky" foliage and green/yellow blooms
Plant in full sun in average soil that is well drained
Height: 3-5 feet; Width: 6-8 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 9-11:
Zones 2-8: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; grow as an annual or bring indoors in fall.
Zone 9: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established; may be damaged or killed in temperatures below 25.
Zone 10: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established.
Zone 11: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established.

Raspberry Ice Bougainvillea

Evergreen sprawling shrub with variegated foliage and fuchsia brachts/flowers
Plant in full sun in average soil that is well drained
Fertilize regularly with water-based fertilizers
Height: 3-4 feet; Width: 4-6 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 9-11:
Zones 2-8: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; grow as an annual or bring indoors in fall.
Zone 9: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established; may be damaged or killed in temperatures below 25.
Zone 10: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established.
Zone 11: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established.

Royal Purple Bougainvillea

Evergreen sprawling shrub with deep-green foliage and purple bracht/flowers
Plant in full sun in average soil that is well drained
Fertilize regularly with water-based fertilizers
Height: 2-4 feet; Width: 2-3 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 9-11:
Zones 2-8: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; grow as an annual or bring indoors in fall.
Zone 9: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established; may be damaged or killed in temperatures below 25.
Zone 10: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established.
Zone 11: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established.

Barbara Karst Bougainvillea

barbara karst bougainvillea has vivid red bracts

Evergreen thorny vine with vivid red bracts/flowers

Plant in full sun in average soil that is well drained; heat tolerant
Fertilize regularly with water-based fertilizers
Height: to 20 feet; Width: 4-6 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 9-11:
Zones 2-8: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; grow as an annual or bring indoors in fall.
Zone 9: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established; may be damaged or killed in temperatures below 25.
Zone 10: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established.
Zone 11: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established.

Torch Glow Bougainvillea

torch glow bougainvillea has bright pink brachts

Evergreen erect shrub with deep-green foliage and bright-pink brachts/flowers

Plant in full sun in average soil that is well drained
Fertilize regularly with water-based fertilizers
Height: 6 feet; Width: 6 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 9-11:
Zones 2-8: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; grow as an annual or bring indoors in fall.
Zone 9: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established; may be damaged or killed in temperatures below 25.
Zone 10: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established.
Zone 11: Plant in fall or early spring; water during dry spells until established.

Gopher Spurge

gopher spurge is mounding evergreen shrub

Mounding evergreen shrub with gray/blue foliage and yellow flowers in early spring

Plant in full sun
Plant in rich but well-drained soil, drought tolerant
All parts of the plant are poisonous and the milky sap can be irritating
Height: 10-12 inches; Width: 18-24 inches

Hardy in USDA zones 9-11:
Zones 2-8: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; plant in full sun; plant in well-drained soil; mulch in fall; may be killed in temperatures below 20 degrees.
Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; plant in well-drained soil; mulch in fall; may be killed in temperatures below 20 degrees.
Zone 10: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; plant in well-drained soil; mulch in fall.
Zone 11: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; plant in well-drained soil; mulch in fall.

Leadwort

Sprawling evergreen shrub with light-green foliage and sky-blue flowers resembling phlox
Plant in full sun for best flowering
Plant in rich but well-drained soil; prune while dormant in winter
Height: 10-12 inches; Width: 18-24 inches

Hardy in USDA zones (8)9-11:
Zones 2-7: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; plant in full sun; plant in well-drained soil; mulch in fall; will survive light frosts but not a hard freeze.
Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; plant in well-drained soil; mulch in fall; will survive light frosts, but not a hard freeze; marginally hardy in this zone.
Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; plant in well-drained soil; mulch in fall.
Zone 10: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; plant in well-drained soil; mulch in fall.
Zone 11: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; plant in well-drained soil; mulch in fall.

Mexican Petunia

Upright tender perennial with narrow leaves and light-pink flowers in summer
Plant in full sun to partial shade; invasive weed in warmer climates
Plant in moist well-drained soil
Height: 3-4 feet; Width: 3-4 feet
Grown as an annual in zones 2-7

Hardy in USDA zones 8-11:
Zones 2-7: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; plant in full sun; remove after first killing frost.
Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune back in late winter; deadhead to prevent seeding.
Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune back in late winter; deadhead to prevent seeding.
Zone 10: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune back in late winter; deadhead to prevent seeding.
Zone 11: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune back in late winter; deadhead to prevent seeding.

Purple Trailing Lantana

purple trailing lantana is invasive in south

This plant is reported as invasive in areas of the south where it's hardy. Invasiveness is also reported in other regions of the country.

Low-growing, vining evergreen shrub with purple flowers used as a groundcover
Plant in full sun; tolerates heat and drought
Plant in average to dry, well-drained soil
Height: 6-12 inches; Width: 3-4 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 8b-10:
Zones 2-8a: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; plant in full sun; plant in well-drained soil; pull up dead plants after first hard frost.
Zone 8b: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; plant in full sun; plant in well-drained soil; mulch in fall; do not prune back dead stems until early spring.
Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; plant in well-drained soil; mulch in fall; prune back dead stems in fall or early spring.
Zone 10: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; plant in well-drained soil; mulch in fall; may continue flower throughout most of year; prune as needed.

Autumn Sage

autumn sage has trumpet shaped flowers

Small semievergreen to evergreen shrub with trumpet-shaped flowers in a variety of colors in late summer

Plant in full sun; heat tolerant; reseeds in warmer climates
Plant in well-drained soil; drought tolerant; avoid fertilizers
Height: 2-4 feet; Width: 2-4 feet

Grown as an annual in zones 2-6
Hardy in USDA zones 7-10:

Zones 2-6: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; plant in full sun; remove after first killing frost.
Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; prune back hard in late winter; semi-evergreen in this zone.
Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch to conserve moisture; prune back hard in late winter; may be semi-evergreen in this zone.
Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch to conserve moisture; prune back hard in late winter; evergreen in this zone.
Zone 10: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch to conserve moisture; prune back hard in later winter; evergreen in this zone.

Parry's Penstemon

parrys penstemon is small evergreen perennial

Small semievergreen to evergreen perennial with bright-pink flowers

Plant in full sun to partial shade
Plant in well-drained soil
Height: 2-4 feet; Width: 1-3 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 8-10:
Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune back hard in late winter; may be semi-evergreen in this zone.
Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune back hard in late winter; may be evergreen in this zone.
Zone 10: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune back hard in later winter; may be evergreen in this zone.

Blackfoot Daisy

blackfoot daisy can spread prolifically

This plant can spread prolifically; however, it is a SW native.

Short-lived perennial with white daisylike flowers and yellow centers
Plant in full sun
Plant in rich, well-drained soil; water when dry
Deadhead to prevent excessive seedlings
Height: 12-18 inches; Width: 18-24 inches

Hardy in USDA zones 7-11:
Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune to maintain shape and vigor.
Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune to maintain shape and vigor.
Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune to maintain shape and vigor.
Zone 10: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune to maintain shape and vigor.
Zone 11: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune to maintain shape and vigor.

Santa Rita Prickly Pear

santa rita prickly pear produces edible fruit

Large, clump-forming segmented evergreen cactus that produces orange-yellow flowers and edible fruit

Plant in full sun
Plant in well-drained soil
Height: 3-4 feet; Width: 4-6 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 7-11:
Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; prune to maintain shape and vigor.
Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; prune to maintain shape and vigor.
Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; prune to maintain shape and vigor.
Zone 10: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; prune to maintain shape and vigor.
Zone 11: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; prune to maintain shape and vigor.

Crested Apple Cactus

crested apple cactus is treelike columnar cactus

Treelike columnar cactus with dark-green contorted stems and beautiful night-blooming flowers

Plant in full sun
Plant in well-drained soil; water when dry; fertilize monthly during growing season
Height: 3-4 feet, but it may vary; Width: 2-4 feet, but it may vary

Hardy in USDA zones 9-11:
Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; prune to maintain shape and vigor.
Zone 10: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; prune to maintain shape and vigor.
Zone 11: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; prune to maintain shape and vigor.

Mexican Honeysuckle

mexican honeysuckle attract hummingbirds

Evergreen shrub with velvety leaves and orange tubular flowers that attract hummingbirds

Plant in full sun to partial shade
Plant in rich, well-drained soil; water when dry
Height: 3-4 feet; Width: 4-6 feet

Hardy in USDA zones 9-11:
Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune to maintain shape and vigor.
Zone 10: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune to maintain shape and vigor.
Zone 11: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch to conserve moisture; prune to maintain shape and vigor.

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