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Drought Tolerant Flowers, Plants and Shrubs for High Desert Gardening

High Desert Blogging

Gardening in high desert terrain can vary from one garden to another, even in the same area. Finding what works is a matter of learning what type of garden soil you have, how much sun or shade a plant needs, trial and error and a whole lot of TLC.

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Water Conservation and Money-Saving Gardening Tips

Since water conservation is of utmost importance in the Mohave Desert, gardeners look for ways to cut down on garden upkeep. One garden blogger advised planting shrubs to save money in the garden. Like she says, they take up a larger space which means fewer plants are needed.

Planting drought tolerant shrubs, flowers, and trees will help conserve water. Oleander, pyracantha shrubs and Italian Cypress trees are evergreen and often seen planted as privacy fences. Although not everyone likes to plant oleanders because they are poisonous, they do grow well in the high desert. The oleander produces pink, white and red flowers from spring through autumn. The pyracantha is thorny and produces bright red or orange berries in autumn and winter and white flowers during spring and summer.

Combine shrubs with perennials and herbs like these:

  • lavender
  • sage
  • salvia
  • lovage
  • lemon balm
  • snapdragons
  • pansies
  • yarrow
  • catmint
  • California poppies

High Desert Snapdragons

Keep plants that require more water in the same area, and use soaker hoses or a drip irrigation system.

It makes sense to use native plants like cacti. A cactus garden when in bloom with bright green and pink flowers is a beautiful sight. Bees and hummingbirds love a blooming cactus garden.

Plant a smoke tree, mulberry or a juniper. These make great drought tolerant choices for a high desert landscape.

Groundcover plants to consider are:

  • Sedum
  • Rockrose
  • Thyme
  • Succulents

Be sure to ask your nursery what the best choices are for your type of garden soil. Keep your receipts. Some garden stores offer a money-back guarantee if you have a receipt to show.

Happy Gardening!


Drought Tolerant Shrubs for High Desert Gardening

Drought Tolerant Shrubs

Mirror Plant, Coprosma

Coprosma - Mirror Plant

Mirror Plant, Coprosma










There are different variations of Coprosma. Copper Shine, Evening Glow, Kirkii, and Pink Splendor are some of the different ones. The one in the photo shown above is called Tricolor Mirror Plant, one I’m going to plant this month. It makes a beautiful shrub and can be planted in sun or partial shade. When researching Coprosma, I read that it is tolerant in cold and drought (once established). However, Jeff Wortham says otherwise in his video on Coprosma. His experience is that the hedge needs some water.

Oleander shrubs grow well in the High Desert. I have friends who would never plant them, expressing how poisonous the oleanders are. Other friends love them, grew up around them, and have no problem planting them in their yards. Linda Marie at Linda Marie’s Enchanted Treasures has them at her shop. She said she grew up around oleanders. Like James Nicholas from says, so what! So are Daffodils, English ivy, azaleas and others.
Nandina, or Heavenly Bamboo

Nandina is considered drought tolerant and requires low to moderate water. It makes a good screen plant and grows well in sun or shade. I haven’t planted Heavenly Bamboo, but I have a friend who has had great success with the evergreen shrubs. They change colors through the spring, summer, and fall. It’s most gorgeous during fall with deep red foliage.
Italian Cypress

The Italian Cypress is a thin, tall shrub often used in the High Desert as border screens. It requires only low to moderate water and is drought tolerant and can be planted in full sun or part shade.

Look in your local nursery for other good drought tolerant shrubs and plants to grow in your high desert garden. Ask the nursery how much you should water the shrubs at first. I’ve planted drought tolerant plants before that didn’t make it past the “once established” stage.

What drought tolerant shrubs have you planted with success? Share your gardening expertise in the available comment section.

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