Experience the joy of making the desert bloom in your Tucson garden whether it be a xeriscape (drought-tolerant landscape), or a productive flower and food factory.
In Tucson you can grow the best grapefruit, tangelos and pomegranates you will find anywhere. Oranges, peaches, apricots, pecans and figs also do well. You can take advantage of the mild winter days and winter rains to grow your own (pest-free and disease-free) sugar snap peas, Chinese pea pods, lettuce, spring onions, garlic, and broccoli.
Roses, iris, pansies and pyracantha have adapted well to the Sonoran desert, along with flamboyant drought-tolerant plants from all around the world such as the Mexican bird of paradise or the red weeping bottlebrush from Australia . Spring brings cultivated wildflowers such as penstemons, California and Mexican poppies, Texas bluebonnet, owl's clover, brittle bush, and spectacular yellow palo verde trees in bloom and a dense carpet of naturalized yellow and orange African daisies.
Cactus of various shapes provide architectural accents and low-maintenance plants for your landscape. Prickly pear cactus is a local favorite for its fruit that is used to make sweet prickly pear jelly and a juice that is believed by some to be a health tonic with amazing properties (especially for diabetics).
Gardening in the desert can be a little quirky and it is best to see how successful, long-time gardeners in the desert operate by joining a gardening club such as the Tucson Organic Gardeners or attending workshops put on by the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Organic gardening principles work well in a desert environment but mostly all that a successful garden requires is compost or any type of organic matter added to the alkaline, clay soil to make it more friable, deep, less-frequent watering so the roots will grow down away from the hot surface in the summer, and a mulch to retain moisture and insulate the surface of the soil.
1. PLANTS FOR DRY CLIMATES by Mary Rose Duffield and Warren Jones (has photos of each plant to aid in identification.
2. BLAST FURNACE ROSE GARDENING by the Rose Society of Tucson. (Available from local nurseries such as Catalina Heights and Mesquite Valley)
3. Any of the small pamphlets that have photos identifying native plants and trees of the Sonoran desert from the Botanical Gardens or Desert Museum giftshops.
4. Free pamphlets available from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Garden Center,
4210 N. Campbell Avenue, phone 626-5161
Roses grow beautifully in Tucson!
The Rose Society of Tucson
Tucson Organic Gardeners
Tucson Organic Gardeners in a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and encourage the use of Nature's resources as a guide for gardening and sustainable living. To this end we avoid the use of toxic materials in our relationship with the Earth. We promote interest in and the knowledge of organic gardening, including composting, through programs open to the public, workshops, public events and other means of communication.
Community Gardens of Tucson
A community garden is a place where neighbors can grow flowers or vegetables together on one piece of land. The land is usually volunteered by a home owner for use as a garden space.
Tucson Botanical Gardens
Bach's Cactus Nursery
Incredible variety and selection cactus and succulents. Wonderfully friendly, knowledgeable and helpful staff. Beatiful, healthy plants!
Mesquite Valley Growers Nursery
8005 E. Speedway Blvd. (One block east of Pantano)
All of Mesquite Valley Growers plants are well labeled and there's always plenty of knowledgeable help available.
Desert Survivors Appreciation and preservation of the Sonoran Desert
Special Thanks to my friend Ruth Rabin for her contributions to this page and for years of wonderful fruit from her garden.