A Master Gardener's guide to gardening in a hot dry climate
and Climbing Plants for Hot, Dry
||A garden seat in early
summer covered with fragrant pink roses is a lovely
haven. Roses, especially David Austen English
Roses, grow vigorously in desert climates.
But--alas--they do need regular watering. For more
about growing roses in a desert climate,
How refreshing it is to sit under an
arbor on a hot summer morning under a canopy of leafy vines! And
if these vines produce gorgeous, fragrant flowers or delicious
grapes as well as cooling shade-- well, all the better. You may,
in fact, find that the temperature under a shady arbor is about
10 degrees F. cooler than sunny areas of your garden.
Pink Trumpet Vine (Podranea
ricasoliana) is a South African native that loves the sun
and heat. It grows slowly at first and must be tied to the arbor
or trellis. But as it grows older its growth speeds up. Needs
Trumpet Creeper (Campsis
radicans) from the eastern U.S. is a
self-attaching vine with bright yellow and orange
blossoms. This vine can grow as much 40 feet in one
year! Because it is such a vigorous grower and can
become invasive, it is best planted in a large
container beside the trellis or arbor. It is
tolerant of a variety of soil conditions and of heat
and cold. Needs moderate water in summer.
(Loncera japonica) is another vine with trumpet
shaped flowers that does very well in the desert. Like the
three we have already listed, it grows fast, fast, fast. It
can be invasive, but its fragrance is heavenly in the Spring
and early Summer! Tolerates poor soil conditions, hot
weather, and needs little to moderate water. It should be
cut back in winter.
With proper care the fast-growing Clematis will grow
in a hot, dry climate. Plant it by a trellis in a
sheltered corner and keep the roots cool. Tip: place
a large flat rock or piece of tile over the root
zone so the soil beneath does not become hot. Needs
ample water. In winter it may look dead, but it is
not, as Spring weather will prove.
Plant Cat's Claw (Macfadyena
unguis-cati) and stand back! This vine will grow up and
over a three story building in no time. It self-attaches,
even to sizzling hot walls, to create a tracery of delicate
green vines and leaves. Yellow flowers appear in the Spring
during a short blooming season. This Central American native
tolerates drought extremely well but it can be very invasive
and difficult to eradicate once it is established. You
would be wise to choose another climber instead of this one.
||Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia
violacea) is one of our personal favorites
because it blooms in late Winter to early Spring --
which is Summer and early Fall in its native
Australia. Lovely purple flowers -- almost
wisteria-like-- announce that Spring is coming.
Needs moderate water, partial shade and a trellis to
climb on. (For more information about Australian
plants and trees, read our
January 2004 newsletter.)
Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma
capensis) is among the very best climbing plants to use
on pergolas and arbors in hot, dry climates. This South
African native needs little water to maintain its luxurious
growth all summer long. And grow it does -- climbing to as
much as 25 feet in one season! Because it is both beautiful
and a sun-lover, wholesale nurseries have developed new
hybrids with a variety of yellows and orange blossoms. New
growth may suffer damage in cold winters, but will come back
in Spring. Will need to be tied to arbor, initially. It can
also be grown as a shrub.
floribunda) is long-lived and produces impressive
amounts of blooms in lilac, white, blue, and lavender-pink
in early summer. Better yet, it needs only moderate water and
tolerates alkaline soil. You may have to add chelated iron
if the plants develops chlorosis, a condition where the
leaves turn yellow but the veins stay green. Needs frequent
pruning to train into shape, but not much fertilizer.
grows beautifully in the warm-winter areas providing
summer-long brilliant color in reds, pinks, golds
and oranges. Can be grown as an annual in areas
where winter temperatures fall below 30 F. New shrub
forms suitable for planters are now available. Low
water usage once established. Note: Take special
care not to disturb the roots when you plant
bougainvillea: the root ball is easily damaged and
the damage will kill the plant.
(Vitis Vinifera) at your arbor and
you can have your shade and great food, too! Several
varieties grow well in a hot, dry climate, including
the 'Thompson Seedless', 'Golden Muscat' and the
'Alden'. The 'Golden Muscat' needs some shade
because its leaves will sunburn.
(See more photos of this garden in Nevada,
Grape plants require strategic
pruning and constant soil moisture in the Spring to produce
ample fruit. They are, however, drought tolerant if
producing an abundance of grapes is not your goal. Gravelly,
fast draining soil is important.
For more about grapes suitable for
your garden, visit your local nursery or go on a
wine-sampling road trip to the commercial wineries in
locations from Southern Arizona to Southern Nevada.
Algerian Ivy (Hedera
canariensis) can be either a ground cover or vigorous
climbing vine -- or both. It is a fast grower that will
climb up and over anything in its way. While it needs little
water once established, this native of North Africa and the
Canary Islands needs some shade in the afternoon; its large
dark green leaves may sunburn.
The more delicate
ivy (Hedera helix) is generally more
suitable for hanging planters or patio pots than for
installation in the ground. One English ivy cultivar,
however, the 'Baltica' is fairly hardy. Its small white-vein
leaves turn a purplish hue in cold weather.
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Flowering plants that reliably bloom in scorching mid-summer heat.
Australian plants and trees that grow well in hot, dry climates.
Weather-proofing palms for winter; cold weather palm trees.
A white garden
for night time
Topiary can be easy to create
and add charm to your garden.
Techniques to combat death by heat exhaustion of plants in pots.
Cactus as security barriers
for your property.
South African aloes
brilliant late winter color in your garden.
Frugal gardening tips to save you money.
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