chapter THREE

Success with Desert Plants

Selecting plants for valley gardens can be a difficult task, because we have so many different species to choose from. Our sunny climate, mild winters and long growing season allow an extremely wide range of landscape plants to grow and thrive.

Gardeners have among their choices “traditional” landscape plants—those that have been grown in the Coachella Valley for decades. Expanses of lawn bordered by hedges and bracketed by skyline palms, brought to life with colorful beds of annuals in the foreground, come to mind. This type of landscape may be visually appealing to many, but they require a tremendous amount of water to establish and maintain.

After years of testing and research by pioneering landscape professionals, nurserymen and growers, a wide selection of new plants that are attractive and colorful, yet use much less water, are now available. Many are native to our region; others come from arid climates around the world. With a thoughtful eye toward design, these plants are gradually changing the face of our region. At the same time, they are greatly reducing the amount of water it takes to keep our landscapes attractive and thriving.

As you look through the following pages, consider these new plants as candidates for your own landscape. In the long term, it is wise for all of us to select plants that are lush as well as water efficient.

The colorful icons shown below help explain at a glance what each plant needs to grow successfully: preferred exposure to the sun, water requirements, plus each plant’s inherent ability to withstand cold. Because conditions are so variable from garden to garden, use these recommendations as a general guide. Note too, that the water recommendations are for established plants, which means plants have lived through two summers in our desert climate.

Sun 130F.eps Reflected Sun Rain Drops 1.eps High Water. Water every day in summer.
Sun 130F.eps Full Sun Rain Drops 1.eps Moderate Water. Water every other day in summer.
Sun 130F.eps Partial Sun Rain Drops 1.eps Low Water. Water two to three times per week in summer.
Sun 130F.eps Shade 28° Cold Hardiness in degrees Fahrenheit
Brought to you by Coachella Valley Water District