Southern Arizona gardens - Let it grow, let it show

Mexican sunflowers are one of many choices for Tucson residents to choose from for planters and for gardens to survive the summer heat.


Remember that timing is everything.

Prime planting season is late August through early October in Tucson to ensure plants can develop a sturdy root system.

Unfortunately, some people wait until late October to Thanksgiving to begin their planting, thinking that daytime temperatures have finally moderated. But “nighttime temperatures, not daytime temperatures, make the biggest difference.”

Homeowners should install three or four separate irrigation lines in their landscaping system, one for trees, one for shrubs, one for ground cover, and one for potted plants, a rose garden or a vegetable garden.

The keys to watering efficiently and effectively are long, deep, and slow doses. Remember to move emitters further out each year to accommodate tree root growth, he said.

What sort of drought-resistant shrubs, trees, and flowers can withstand the Sonoran summer?

Consider chaparral sage, silver cloud sage, and thundercloud sage, all of which are varieties of the Texas ranger plant family. Cassias, Texas mountain laurel, Mexican honeysuckle, chuparosa, and gopher purge are other hardy shrubs.

Trees that do well in our Tucson climate include Texas ebony, palo blanco, and, for patio shade, the Mexican bird of paradise with yellow blooms.

For pots and planters, vinca and salvia are resistant to critters and summer heat. In the peak of summer, star zinnia, purslane, sedum, a succulent, coreopsis, gazanias, and Mexican sunflowers are recommended.

As with tree irrigation, deep, slow watering sessions are best for pots and planters.

Finally, if you have a rock wall instead of greenery, remember that rock raises the temperatures around the house in summer. Instead, consider planting trees, particularly deciduous trees such as Arizona ash and desert willow, in strategic spots for shade in summer.

Deciduous trees are the cleanest trees, because unlike mesquite or acacia trees they only shed once a year.

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