If you’re looking for low maintenance, easy to grow, heat tolerant, drought tolerant plants, I’ve made a list! This was a reader’s request and I hope it helps you!
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Now, here’s the thing about hardiness – it all depends where you live and your growing zone will make a plant hardy. I share some of my favorite (and not favorite) hardy and easy to grow plants in Phoenix Arizona. I’m in Zone 9 so we have no problems with snow or the cold, we have a very mild winter. I know you know, but I’m going to be very practical with what I’m listing and because I list it doesn’t mean I love it – as I will explain the cons in some. Everyone has their own preferences and you can grow what you like and what fits your garden space.
Also, know that sometimes you have bad luck some plants just go through shock, or it’s not the season to plant so don’t be discouraged. These are some hardy and easy to grow plants in Phoenix Arizona that I have experience with.
I am showing images of plants with permission from the nursery (Moon Valley), to make it easier and linking them (click the image) to the page for more info.
Happy in full sun – check to see how your zone is with roses. Iceberg roses hardly require as much maintenance as an English rose (less need to deadhead and you can really leave them alone). You can also use this rose as a hedge as we do. This is the most low maintenance rose I recommend to beginners. They bloom a lot so I would recommend this rose for all homes, it’s a lovely basic white rose.
Drought tolerant. Blooms early to late fall. Always gorgeous along a white wall (think Greece) and comes in so many color ways, white, peach, yellow, purple, red, soft pink, vibrant pink, it’s a lovely plant but beware – thorny as heck and the shedding of the flowers might make you want to rip your hair out so be aware where you plant! I had wanted to grow lots of bougainvillea but we have one left if that tells you if I like them (and I would prefer to replace with a climbing rose).
Great for warm climates. It grow quickly and can hide a multitude of sins. However, you must maintain it because if you decide you want to trim up the sides after the growth, you’re going to just see a bunch of sticks and no growth for a few months. If I were to plant Lantana again I would pick purple (my favorite color in the garden for French vibes). It’s not my most favorite flower for shape but it is a quick grower and if you can keep on it for shape it will be fine.
Favorite flower options:
A pretty purple/bluish flower depending on the variety. Heat tolerant for summer but in winter prone to mold on the leaves so you have to cut it down to the base and it will come back (depends on your zone).
A summer annual, toss some seeds on the ground and protect them from the birds before they sprout.
Evergreen in coldest winters. Slow as heck growers which makes Japanese Boxwood easy maintenance unless you already have your hedge then you need to maintain its shape. We have these in the front of our home and they are making a short privacy hedge.
Cold hardy and also can withstand the heat! Oleander is used everywhere as a privacy hedge and grows very fast. We have them along a side wall (outside of our wall) and they can grow so tall, over 10 feet, Benjamin estimates 15! You can also get a dwarf shrub that grows 4 feet tall, or get an Oleander tree. We planted this against a wall that bounces a lot of heat and it thrives. Comes in red, pink, and white flowers, blooms once a year.
We have these along our back wall, low-maintenance and loves full sun. Indian Laurel Columns are a fast growing evergreen and can add some great privacy and height along walls. It is a beautiful hedge and can grow together, they are the ideal Hollywood hedge you see.
Loves full sun and is cold hardy. This is a fast bush grower, there is green and purple. Some hopseed bushes will turn a color in the sun (purple) so when you buy, buy them all the same variety just incase.
If your climate allows (lots of heat), a citrus tree is very easy to grow. I don’t recommend it inside, though I’ve never tried but the idea of having to hand pollinate sounds exhausting. Once a citrus tree is established you’re pretty much good to go and this tree is an evergreen. Keep them small by maintaining the height with regular pruning or else you’ll get a 15 feet orchard height citrus and hundreds of citrus every season you’ll have to pick off.
This has always been a favorite of mine – it does only bloom once but it’s magnificent in the way it smells. You can tie this on a trellis into a diamond pattern. See this blog post on how I did it. They also have star jasmine as a landscape ground cover so it is low to the ground. I wouldn’t recommend direct sun if you live in a very hot place. Face it for morning sun or on a north facing wall.
One of my favorite smells but is similar to cat’s claw that under the growth can become woody so you’d need to maintain it. Blooms once a year. This needs a trellis. Though I love the smell of pink jasmine, it really isn’t worth the maintenance to me but it is easy, and must be what heaven smells like.
Heat and drought tolerant. It just to say that it grows, like a weed and attach itself to everything. Really. If you need something that crawls up a wall or fence and you want it more whimsical looking, it will bloom only once a year. Cat’s Claw is hard to kill, remove and a fast grower. It has vibrant yellow blooms in the spring that look magical. I don’t recommend this unless you have the right spot.
Cold and heat tolerant. Creeping fig will require maintenance and know that it will cause damage, but it is magical. I consider this a Hollywood style vine you can see climbing on white homes or brick and it is so pretty but will leave marks on your surfaces if you ever decide to remove it.
A drought-tolerant tree that loves full sun and desert climates, it is a gorgeous canopy and a nursery favorite. It also turns a lovely color in the fall before dropping (a lot) of leaves. We have a Chinese Pistache in the middle our backyard and it is one of our favorite trees. The leaves that drop are huge though, it’s not just one leaf, it’s like 6 leaves attached to a small stick so be aware when it drops, you will be raking a lot of leaves.
Loves growing in full sun, hot areas, this is a fast grower! It has a huge canopy and lots of little leaves that fall in the fall/winter. The Chinese Elm is a favorite in our neighborhood and we have two of them. If you need lots of shade right away, plant a few of these!
Cold hardy and thrives in full sun, the ash tree is a fast growing, pretty tree that also drops leaves in the fall/winter. We have two in our backyard. I think this is such a pretty tree it’s one of my favorites after the Chinese Pistache.
Ficus Indian Laurel Specimen
Handles summer heat very well and thrives in desert environments – comes in hedges or tree. The only thing to watch is if it gets cold, it can kill parts of the Ficus tree and look terrible. The way to prevent this is to have a fan on them I guess to circulate the air (told by the nursery).
Likes full sun, is cold hardy, and becomes drought-tolerant once established. The Crape Myrtle comes in several colors, white, pink, and purple. Very small ornamental pretty tree (look at it as just for looks since it’s not overly big). However, I don’t like how it looks when it drops its leaves for a few months, it looks like a twig in the dirt.
Very tough plant in full sun and drought tolerant. Gorgeous medium sized tree with white and pink striped flowers in summer. We have a Chitalpa tree on the corner of our home. I do like the way the tree looks (over a desert willow which can look dry to me), however, be aware that it can have problems with mildew on the leaves for about 4 months, ours does. If you have desert landscaping with no sprinklers around then yours might not have the mildew.
Phew! And there you go!
Trees I would not recommend –
- Sissoo – Arborists tell us that they are removing more and more of these every day due to invasiveness it has been destroying pipes. They are great if you have lots of fields and it won’t damage anything.
- Palm trees – I don’t recommend them due to lack of shade they provide, and the cost of maintaining them twice a year to cut. We had our 5 in the front corner removed when we redid our landscaping.
All images used with permission from Moon Valley Nurseries.
Do you have other recommendations for hardy plants? Tell me your favorites – or least favorites in the comments.
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Get the look
Diana Elizabeth planted 5 plants with the help of her husband in the front yard to complete a hedge. The plant they had to remove was thriving but it was more tropical in that spot and now it looks much better.