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The Latest Drought-Tolerant Desert Plants – What You Need to Know!

Article by Deborah Munoz-Chacon, Sonoran Oasis Landscaping

Photo from Monrovia - Yani's Delight Bougainvillea


As temperatures continue to rise and Arizona water resources become scarce, choosing plants that can survive drought is increasingly important. With that in mind, the latest drought-tolerant desert plants are essential for any homeowner who wants an attractive yet resilient outdoor space. These plants are adapted to survive in extreme heat and arid conditions, making them ideal for landscapes in hot, dry climates. With their vibrant colors and interesting textures, these desert plants can make a great addition to your landscape. Read on to learn more about the latest drought-tolerant desert plants, including their characteristics, care requirements, and potential uses in landscaping.

Photo from Monrovia - Santa Barbara Mexican Bush Sage


Overview of Drought-Tolerant Desert Plants


Drought-tolerant desert plants grow naturally in areas where rainfall is less than 10 inches per year, such as the desert regions of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. These plants have adapted to survive extended periods of dry conditions without supplemental watering. Many are native to the desert and play an essential role in the local ecosystem. Some of these plants are also suitable for planting in raised beds, containers, and other landscaping projects in milder climates. When choosing plants for areas with little to no rainfall, it is essential to choose drought-tolerant species that are well-adapted to the local growing conditions.

Photo from Monrovia - Varigated Dwarf Smooth Agave


Characteristics of Drought-Tolerant Desert Plants


- Low water requirements - Many drought-tolerant desert plants thrive with little to no supplemental watering once established. Some of the latest desert-adapted plants can survive for extended periods with no additional water. As such, these plants are especially useful for areas that have poor water availability or low water pressure. - Strong root systems - The latest drought-tolerant desert plants have root systems that help them find water when conditions become drier. This allows these plants to survive extended periods without additional watering, particularly during periods of drought. - Strong heat tolerance - Drought-tolerant desert plants are well-adapted to survive intense heat. Some have thick, spiny leaves and/or hairy stems that help reflect the sun’s rays and reduce water loss. Other drought-tolerant desert plants have a low water requirement and do not require much water to stay healthy and vibrant.


Photo from Monrovia - Echo Rojo Red Hot Poker

Care Requirements for Drought-Tolerant Desert Plants


- Soil preparation - The latest desert-adapted plants are best suited for planting in sandy, well-draining soils. Some of the latest drought-tolerant desert plants may also perform better in soil with a higher pH (more alkaline). - Planting time - When planting the latest drought-tolerant desert plants, it is important to consider the weather in your area. Most desert plants prefer the warm temperatures of spring and fall to grow and flower. However, some can withstand the occasional light frost. - Watering frequency - The best way to determine how often to water your desert plants depends on their type. Most drought-tolerant desert plants require little to no supplemental watering once established. However, some of the latest desert-adapted desert plants may benefit from light watering every few weeks or months in dry weather.

Photo from Monrovia - Bush Tenacity Kangaroo Paw

Potential Uses for Drought-Tolerant Desert Plants in Landscaping

- Xeriscape - Many of the latest drought-tolerant desert plants are suitable for xeriscaping, an environmentally friendly landscaping technique that emphasizes drought-tolerant plants. Xeriscaping may help reduce water usage in your home and community, which can particularly be helpful during times of water shortages or increased water rates such as we are seeing in Arizona. - Rock gardens - Some desert plants are excellent for growing in small spaces, such as rock gardens. Rock gardens are planted on rock slabs with little soil needed. These are great for small areas like garden paths or patios. - Pathways - Drought-tolerant desert plants are often thick, spiny plants that are naturally useful for pathways. They can be planted along garden beds and pathways to create a natural barrier and prevent weeds from sprouting. - Edging - Some desert plants have thick, spiny leaves that can be useful for edging pathways, walkways, and other areas of the garden.


Photo from Monrovia - Pugster Blue Dwarf Butterfly Bush


Benefits of Planting Drought-Tolerant Desert Plants


- Can extend the life of your garden - Many drought-tolerant desert plants can survive for extended periods with little to no watering, which can be helpful in areas with poor water availability, no irrigation system or low water pressure. This may extend the life of our garden, allowing you to enjoy these plants for years without needing to add supplemental water. - Can minimize water usage - Many drought-tolerant desert plants are capable of surviving extended periods without additional watering. This can be helpful for areas with limited water availability, such as desert regions, or urban areas where water restrictions are enforced. In these areas, they can help reduce the amount of water needed for gardening. - Cools the surrounding environment - Some of the latest drought-tolerant desert plants have a high ability to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and transform it into biomass. This ability can help cool the surrounding environment and make the area more hospitable to people and animals. - Helps to sustain local wildlife - Some drought-tolerant desert plants are essential for sustaining local wildlife. Plants like the Joshua tree provide essential nesting and food sources for local birds and rodents.


Photo from Monrovia - Silky Gold Tropical Milkweed


Potential Challenges with Planting Drought-Tolerant Desert Plants


- May require frequent maintenance - Many drought-tolerant desert plants have extremely thick thorns, spines, or other protective features. While these are useful for deterring predators, they can also make gardening around these plants challenging. These features can sometimes protrude into walkways and pathways, making them difficult to navigate. - May be more susceptible to disease - Desert plants can survive extended periods without supplemental watering. However, this can also make them more susceptible to disease, as many water-borne pathogens are unable to survive in water-deprived environments. It is important to monitor your drought-tolerant desert plants for signs of disease and take appropriate action. - May be challenging to transplant - Many drought-tolerant desert plants have strong root systems that help them find water in dry conditions. This can make it challenging to transplant these plants, particularly if they are established in the ground.


Photo from Monrovia - Blue Glow Agave


Strategies to Maximize the Success of Planting Drought-Tolerant Desert Plants


- Research the latest drought-tolerant desert plants in your area - Before planting the latest desert plants, it is important to research which species are best suited for your local conditions. By researching the latest drought-tolerant desert plants that are well-adapted to your area, you can increase the likelihood of successful establishment. - Consider the environment of your garden - Before planting drought-tolerant desert plants, it is important to consider the environment of your garden. These plants often have thick, spiny leaves that are useful for fencing and impeding the growth of weeds. However, these same traits may make it challenging to landscape around them. - Consider the needs of the animals in your garden - When selecting the latest drought-tolerant desert plants to include in your garden, it is important to consider the needs of the animals in your area. Many desert plants are essential for sustaining local wildlife.


Photo from Monrovia - Coral Glow Texas Yucca


Conclusion


Drought-tolerant desert plants grow naturally in areas where rainfall is less than 10 inches per year, such as the desert regions of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. These are ideal for gardens in hot, dry climates due to their ability to survive extended periods with little to no supplemental watering. When choosing plants for areas with little to no rainfall, it is essential to choose drought-tolerant species that are well-adapted to the local growing conditions. The latest drought-tolerant desert plants are excellent choices for any gardening enthusiast who wants to add some color and texture to their gardens and landscapes.



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