Arizona’s richly diverse plant life reflects its climate and landform variations. Knowing what flowers grow well in Arizona can help you maintain color in your garden for most of the year.
Since Arizona is known for its diverse climate, its flowers need to be able to survive the arid climate of the deserts or the colder weather of its mountains. That’s why this state has such a wide variety of plants, from annuals to perennials, as well as its native flowering shrubs, cacti, and succulents.
This article will look at Arizona’s peculiar climate and topography that primarily affects its vegetation. We’ll also highlight some of Arizona’s sturdy wildflowers.
Let’s get started.
What Flowers Grow Well in Arizona?
We’ve compiled a list of some of Arizona’s annuals, perennials, cacti, succulents, and shrubs. We included more perennials as they’re favored by gardeners for their low maintenance.
Annuals complete their lifecycle in one growing season. Then, they start again the following year from the dormant seeds they left the previous growing season.
Here are two of Arizona’s stunning annuals. Their elegant blooms will make up for their short lifespans.
Garden Cosmos (Cosmos Bipinnatus)
This dwarf bushy annual has an extended bloom from early summer to fall, giving your garden a graceful appearance. The flowers change color from crimson or burgundy to pink as they mature.
The Garden Cosmos are hardy and require minimal maintenance. They’re also known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Wild Blue Flax (Linum Lewisii)
Also known as Prairie Flax, this annual grows narrow blue-green leaves arranged in spirals on wiry stems. The plant grows many pale blue flowers from late spring to mid-summer with dark blue veins.
The flowers open in the morning and wither after one day. Yet, the lush foliage is more long-lasting.
Some perennials have a lifespan of two to four years. While easy to care for, new growth is encouraged by pruning the plant and removing the flowers.
Fragrant Sand Verbena (Abronia Fragrans)
The upright stems of this herbaceous perennial hold showy white flower heads that bloom in spring till early autumn. They open in the afternoon and remain open through the night, then, they close back up again in the morning.
Each cluster is about three inches across. It consists of about 25 to 70 vanilla-scented blooms.
Common Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium)
This perennial wildflower has masses of large flat flower clusters that are nearly five inches across. Each one contains 20 to 25 white flowers.
The bloom lasts for a few weeks, from early to late summer. Common yarrow has aromatic fern-like leaves, making it an attractive choice for meadow or prairie plantings.
Red Baneberry (Actaea Rubra)
Red Baneberry is a herbaceous perennial well adapted for shady gardens. It blooms in late spring and early summer, growing small fluffy white flower clusters.
Later in summer, its bright red berries ripen. However, they’re inedible because they’re highly poisonous.
Sunset Hyssop (Agastache Rupestris)
The sweet-scented flowers of this perennial attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and beneficial pollinators. The fragrance, along with all the bright colors, makes this flower a definite show-stopper.
The best thing is that these blooms are long-lasting. Therefore, you’ll enjoy bundles of refreshing orange flowers all summer long.
Lady’s Leek (Allium Cernuum)
This perennial herb has erect stems that produce up to 30 bell-shaped white or pink to lilac flowers. The strap-shaped leaves add to the beauty of this stunning plant.
However, if cut or bruised, it diffuses an unpleasant odor that smells like onions. The butterflies seem to love it, so who are we to complain?
When we think of cacti, we usually have a mental image of thorny, prickly plants. Yet, there are many that produce blooms in the warm season. Although they need less water than other plants, they still need to be occasionally irrigated.
Argentine Hedgehog (Echinopsis Huascha)
Also known as the Red Torch Cactus, this plant has four-inch wide cylindrical stems and can grow to three feet in height. In spring, crimson flowers as wide as the stems grow near their ends.
This cactus can endure cold temperatures as low as 19°F.
Saguaro (Carnegiea Gigantea)
This massive cactus with a thick green trunk and at least one lateral branch can grow 50 feet high. However, the growth rate is slow and can take about 10 years to grow a single foot.
Here’s a fun fact: Sagura’s white blossoms are the official state flower of Arizona. They’re known for their edible egg-shaped fruits.
All succulents flower at some point in their lives. However, they require optimal temperature and soil conditions to thrive.
Ocotillo (Fouquieria Splendens)
Ocotillo is classified as a succulent and a shrub. With rainfall, its upright radiating long stems become lush with fleshy green leaves that fall off with drought.
Ocotillo grows tubular red flowers. They could be the reason they attract so many bees and hummingbirds.
Red Yucca (Hesperaloe Parviflora)
Red Yucca is an evergreen perennial succulent with spineless arching green leaves that turn purple to reddish-bronze in winter. From late spring to mid-summer, coral red to pink flowers grow on thin, tall stalks, rising well above the leaves.
Pollinators can’t get enough of these flowers.
Flowering shrubs are typically used as hedge plants, groundcovers, and focal points. Some of them produce beautiful blooms with distinctive floral fragrances.
Sweet Acacia (Acacia Farnesiana)
Sweet Acacia is a semi-evergreen shrub highly prized by gardeners for its pleasant flower fragrance. Clusters of small golden-yellow flowers bloom from late winter to early spring.
If it remains irrigated, this plant’s leaves will keep their green color during winter.
Utah Serviceberry (Amelanchier Utahensis)
Utah Serviceberry is a deciduous shrub with a tree form that looks elegant through the four seasons. In spring, beautiful green leaves and white flowers dot the entire length of the shrub’s branches until early summer.
Then, the fruits are replaced with pink fruits that last until autumn.
Arizona’s Climate and Landscape
Arizona consists of several broad valleys separating distinct, almost parallel mountain ranges like much of the western United States.
The mountain forests in these ranges are called “Sky Islands” because they’re surrounded by large areas of sand and grass. Here, the temperature roughly drops five degrees Fahrenheit for every 1000 feet of elevation. This is in contrast with the dry stretches of the desert below.
To the east of the state, the Chihuahuan Desert receives a lot of rain in the summer. However, much of the precipitation occurs in winter in the Mojave Desert on the western side. The Sonoran Desert in-between gets almost equal rain in summer and winter.
Plant Types Change With Elevation
Vegetation predictably changes the higher up you go. Thus, you can observe the low grassland communities and desert scrub giving way to shrublands. These typically give way to higher woodlands.
Fast-Growing Plants at Higher Elevations
Better climatic conditions at higher elevations favor plants that quickly adapt to these harsh environments and take advantage of them.
Plants that have more stems and leaves can grow faster in rich climates. Thus, they out-compete plants adapted for survival in the harsh environments of lower elevations.
Desert Plants at Lower Elevations
Short plants with smaller leaves can survive the routine acute stresses of dry environments at lower altitudes. Subsequently, arid plants can thrive in the blooming season of higher elevations, but they can’t survive their freezing winter conditions.
Arizona Wildflower Adaptations
Arizona’s plants have three primary strategies to survive the extremely harsh conditions of its desert. First, they’re great at storing water for upcoming dry seasons.
This is how succulents and cacti with extensive shallow roots survive. They’ve learned how to quickly absorb the little rain before the sun and heat dry it up.
Second, they’ve become drought-tolerant. They do this by shedding leaves or producing coatings to slow down water loss.
The third, and final, strategy is to avoid the drought by maturing in the good season and dying before the drought. This is the strategy of annuals that produce seeds for the next season to restart their short lifecycle.
Wrap Up On What Flowers Grow Well in Arizona?
We’ve learned what flowers grow well in Arizona, but the variety makes the decision difficult for passionate gardeners. Succulents and cacti can be the most reliable plants in Arizona’s arid climate, but they’re not the most attractive.
Annuals have a short flowering season, whereas perennials have a longer lifespan. However, if you provide them with ideal growing conditions, you can allow more of your plants to bloom, regardless of the surrounding weather conditions.
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