Shade Trees & Other Plants

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​​​​​Planting in the Desert

Phoenix's wettest month averages just over one inch of rain and temperatures reach or exceed 100°F​ for about 90 days of the year. Many homeowners buy plants that are not well-adapted to Phoenix conditions and waste money when plants die.

Despite these growing conditions, landscaping in Phoenix does not have to be a challenge if you know what to plant. When you visit your local nursery or garden center, ask first to see a selection of hardy native-Arizona plants or low-water-use plant varieties. These plants thrive in the Valley's extreme climate conditions with little water and limited maintenance. You'll leave the nursery knowing that you're saving water, money, and time!

Visiting a Valley Nursery or Garden Center

  • Arrive with a sketch or landscape plan of your yard.

  • Don't be turned off by native/low-water-use plants that are not as showy in nursery pots as high-water-use exotics. Ask to see plant tags or images of the native or low-water-use plants in full-leaf or -bloom. You'll likely find a wide range of desirable colors and textures to enhance your yard.

  • Ask for watering instructions. Plants that are newly installed or transplanted require more water than when they mature. Ask how much to water at the start and when to cut back. Overwatering is the reason many plants do not survive. Landscape Watering by the Numbers​ is a great guide to learn how to water plants.

  • Consider attractive Sonoran Desert natives.

Blue palo verde tree with brilliant yellow leaves. The beautiful Blue Palo Verde.

Visiting a Demonstration Garden

  • ​The Maricopa Coo​​perative Extension Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, located at 4341 E Broadway Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85040​. Call (602) 827-8200​. Entrance is free.

  • The Desert Botanical Garden​ is 142 acres of living museum where you can see desert fauna artfully arranged and carefully cultivated. There is a charge for visiting the museum. The Garden is located at ​1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008. Call (480) 941-1225​. 

  • Visit a City of Phoenix Park near you to see mature shade trees while enjoying playgrounds, walking paths, athletic fields, and open green spaces. Parks are open 365 days per year. Visit Phoenix's Urban Forest Website​ for more information, including an interactive tree inventory where the location and type of each tree in a Phoenix city park is provided.

Shade and other trees​

  • Blue Palo Verde
    Parkinsonia florida

  • Feather Bush
    Lysiloma microphylla v. thornberi

  • Foothills Palo Verde
    Parkinsonia microphylla

  • Ironwood
    Olneya tesota

  • Velvet Mesquite
    Prosopis velutina

  • White Thorn Acacia
    Acacia constricta

Prickly pear cactus leaves with lots of thorns. The hardy and shapely Purple Prickly Pear.

Other plants

  • Brittlebush
    Encelia farinosa

  • Engelmann's Hedgehog
    Echinocereus engelmannii

  • Jojoba
    Simmondsia chinensis

  • Little-leaf Cordia
    Cordia parvifolia

  • Ocotillo
    Fouquieria splendens

  • Purple Prickly Pear
    Opuntia santa-rita

Where can I find out more?