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A few weeks ago, I was asked by one of my editors to come up with a list of the top 10 plants that every resident of the Southwest should consider adding to their landscape.


I must admit that the task was a bit daunting at first – not because I couldn’t think of enough plants.  The problem was that my list was much larger.


I had to pare my list down and decided to focus on plants that would grow in zones 7 – 10, which cover much of the desert Southwest.  In addition, they had to be low-maintenance, native, beautiful and easy to grow.


After considering all of the criteria, I still had about 20 plants.  So, I added one other criteria of my own – how easy is it to find at your local nursery?


At the end, I had 10 plants that I was very happy with – but I could have easily added a lot more 😉

I hope you enjoy reading through this list of 10 essential plants for the desert Southwest.  


*I’d love to hear what plants you would include in your list of 10 favorites.

Do you live in an area that has been affected by drought?


You may be surprised at the answer.  Periods of drought aren’t uncommon for those of us who live in the Western United States, but more recently drought has expanded to some other areas that may surprise you.


Drought tolerant gardening is rapidly becoming a very popular way to garden.  Contrary to what some people may think, drought tolerant gardens are low-maintenance, easy to care for, use far less resources and can be beautiful.

Agave, mesquite and salvias.

Drought tolerant gardens are a great choice for any landscape because they are much more self-sufficient and sustainable than other landscapes. Even if drought has not affected your area, that doesn’t mean that it won’t in the future. 


*This week, I will be doing a series of radio interviews about drought tolerant gardening for radio stations in Oregon, Texas and Alabama. 
I must admit to being a little nervous since I have not done a radio interview before and I have four to do this week.  I think that it should be easier than being on TV since I don’t have to worry about what I’m wearing or if my hair is messed up 😉 

Agave, saguaro, wildflowers and yucca.
No matter if you live in California where many areas are experiencing exceptional drought, the Southwest or wherever you live, the principles of drought tolerant gardening are the same.

Landscape filled with drought tolerant plants and limited amount of grass.
I recently shared 10 tips for drought tolerant gardens in an article for Birds & Blooms where I serve as the garden blogger, which you can read here.

Whether you implement 1 or all of the 10 tips, you will be increasing the sustainability of your landscape.


I encourage you to take a little time to read the 10 tips and then come back later this week, when I will share with some of my favorite drought tolerant plants.

Wish me luck on my first radio interview tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how it goes…

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For more information on drought tolerant gardening, click here.

Last week, was a busy one for me.  I had several appointments scheduled and then I got the ‘mother’ of all colds.  


I don’t get sick colds very often. So, that is probably why when I do get them every few years – I get a really severe one.  

My constant companions the past week.
I am finally among the living after a week of fighting through all that this cold could throw at me and I feel weak and drained – BUT, I can now walk through the house without carrying a box of tissues.  *Being able to breathe through your nose is so delightful when it has been stopped up for a week (cold medicine just doesn’t seem to work all that well for me).

Despite this terrible cold, I was able to make it through my appointments although I prayed that my nose wouldn’t start dripping in front of my clients.  Whenever I started to feel weak or faint, I would come up with an excuse to sit for a minute or two by saying, “Let’s sit for a minute and see what the view of the landscape looks like from this perspective.”

I promise that I used a lot of hand-sanitizer before shaking hands with everyone 😉

Alright, enough complaining about my cold.  I am excited to show you my latest project.


Okay, I admit that it doesn’t look too exciting right now.

As you can see, the project is on a golf course.  This particular course is removing 50 acres of turf and planting drought-tolerant landscapes in their place in their attempt to save water.

The area pictured above, is just one of many that I will be working on throughout the summer.

As part of the turf removal, the golf course will be re-designing its entire irrigation system. (It hasn’t happened yet in this area, which is why it is wet.)


Along the entire length of this area, will run a river-rock lined wash, which will help to channel storm water.

I have been working on a plant palette that includes native, drought-tolerant succulents, shrubs and groundcovers that will require minimal water once established.

Railroad ties, that separate homeowner properties will be removed to visually help the transition toward the golf course landscape.  To that end, I will include a few of the same plants already present in the adjoining properties to create the illusion of a seamless landscape.

The goal is to create a beautiful landscape area that has minimal water and maintenance requirements.  To say that I am excited about working on this project, is an understatement.

Interestingly, my first job out of college was working as a horticulturist for a golf course.  Although I had unlimited opportunities to golf for free – I never did.  Other then indulging in an occasional round of miniature golf – I don’t golf at all.

I may not golf or completely understand the passion for the game – I have come to know the unique challenges that landscaping around golf courses entail – overspray from sprinklers, carts driving through landscape areas when they aren’t allowed, knowing what plants to use in areas that are in play, etc.

Next time, I will share with the plant palette of drought-tolerant, natives that will be used in these areas.  Who knows?  You may be inspired to use some of these plants in your own landscape!