When planting a garden in a hot, dry climate, careful selection of drought-tolerant plants is the first step to success. Though the cactus naturally comes to mind, the desert gardener need not be limited to this thorny plant. Many desert-dwelling and drought-tolerant plants produce beautiful flowers and pretty foliage. From fresh smelling herbs, to self-seeding annuals, flowering vines and shrubs to the heat-loving succulents, the desert gardener has a rich palette to choose from.
Lavender grows in full sun and hot, dry conditions. The purple flowers bloom in the summer and early fall. When not in flower, the silver-green foliage adds an attractive element to a garden bed. Plant lavender in full sun and light, sandy soil. The herbs artemisia, yarrow and sage, also grow well in a dry, hot climate, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
California poppies thrive in hod, dry, desert-like conditions. The bright orange flowers and easy propagation make the California poppy a colorful addition in drought-prone areas. Scatter seeds in the late fall or early spring in slightly damp soil and full sun. The flowers bloom from between February and October. The California poppy is an annual that will self-seed each spring.
The popular aloe vera is one of more than 180 species of aloe plants. This family of succulents thrive in hot, dry, desert conditions. Plant aloe in a rock garden or raised area where the soil is dry and well-draining. Aloe plants cannot withstand freezing temperatures or even minor frost. Plant aloe in full sun. In addition to a few varieties of aloe, plant an agave in your desert garden. These hardy succulents grow in the same conditions as aloes.
Bottlebrush is named for its bright, bottlebrush shaped flowers. This drought-tolerant, hardy shrub adds color and attracts pollinators to the desert garden. To get the best flower display, plant bottlebrush shrubs in full sun and light, well-draining soil. Depending on the species, bottlebrush flowers range from reds and pinks to yellow and pale lemon color.
Drought-tolerant and prolific, bougainvillea is a colorful part of a dry climate garden. These climbing, woody vines will cover walls and fences or grow into a mature tree. The tiny bougainvillea flowers are surrounded by three colorful, papery bracts. Varieties of bougainvillea produce bracts in colors ranging from scarlet to pale peach, snow white and deep purple. Bougainvilleas flower best in dry, slightly stressed conditions and full sun. The sharp thorns on the thick, vines, make bougainvillea an attractive, effective barrier.
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