Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert

One major consideration when selecting landscaping plants for a yard in the Arizona desert is how much water the plant uses. Low-water plants are preferable both to conserve this precious resource, and because drought-tolerant plants are likely to grow better as they will be able to endure the hot, dry summers. This doesn't mean a yard full of cactus is the only alternative. There are many other plants that bloom in exciting colors and add a variety of visually interesting foliage to an Arizona desert yard.


Lantana is a fast-growing plant that has vibrant green foliage with gold, orange or yellow flowers. It can take full summer sun and grows to 2 feet high and 3 feet wide. In warmer winters, the plant may retain flowers nearly year round. The plant does not have thorns, but can irritate the skin when handled. Many homeowners plant lantana near swimming pools or water features because it does not shed leaves or other litter. Its relative, trailing lantana, provides all-season greenery and lavender or white flowers. This plant is shorter but spreads out more widely.

Texas Sage

Texas sage can reach heights of around 6 feet. Its foliage is green or grey. Summer rains bring out a brilliant display of pink or white flowers that can last through the fall. Texas sage is considered a low-water plant.

Green Feathery Senna

Green, feathery senna, sometimes called cassia, is a low-water plant native to the arid regions of Australia. It can grow to dimensions of 6 feet high and 6 feet wide and has an appealing rounded shape. In late winter or early spring, clusters of yellow flowers appear on the plant.

Firecracker Penstemon

Firecracker penstemon is so named because of the spikes of bright red flowers that bloom in late winter or early spring. The plant is native to Mexico and the Southwestern U.S., so it can do well in the low-nutrient soils of an Arizona desert yard. The plant will reseed and appear again the following spring. Hummingbirds are attracted to firecracker penstemon.


Homeowners often use oleander as a screen or divider on the edge of the property. It reaches heights of 6 feet and widths of 4 feet, and grows densely. Oleander is green year round. In the spring through the fall, the plant is brightened with red, white or pink flowers. Oleander is a poisonous plant if ingested, and handling it can cause skin irritation. The plant does not require much water to thrive and will tolerate full sun.

Keywords: desert landscaping, arizona plants, low water usage plants

About this Author

Brian Hill’s first writing credit was the cover story for a national magazine. He is the author of three popular books, The Making of a Bestseller, Inside Secrets to Venture Capital and Attracting Capital from Angels. Among his magazine article credits are the March 2005 and June 2008 issues of The Writer. His interests include golf, football, movies and his two dogs.