Desert Plants for Your Backyard


Trees are hard to come by in the desert, so an awning provides a shady spot to enjoy the outdoors at home.

But what about the rest of your backyard?

When it comes to sprucing up that space, consider adding a few plants. There are plenty of flowering desert plants available to Phoenix natives. Arizona residents can benefit from planting cacti and succulents, which not only come a wide array of varieties and colors, but are also easy to care for and don’t require much water to survive. These plants will provide a splash of color, a breath of fresh air, and may even improve your property value.


Echeveria PlantEcheveria are an ideal plant for the desert garden: they’re full, colorful and easy to maintain.

Echeverias include a number of rosette-style succulents which are well-known for their varied styles and colors. Species of Echeveria can range from lime green to bright red and deep plum, so it only takes a few to bring a variety of colors to your backyard.


Opuntia Paddle CacOpuntias, commonly known as paddle cacti, or prickly pears, are a flowering cacti that grow thin, round pads. Both the pads and the fruit of the cacti (aptly called prickly pear fruit) are the subject of many Southwest recipes. They mix the Southwestern flare of cacti with the color that is sometimes lacking in the desert.

Try: Purple Prickly Pear, Beavertail Prickly Pear


Aloe PlantMore than 450 species of Aloe exist, the most popular of which, of course, is the Aloe vera. The species is often touted for its healing properties, and is commonly used in health and wellness products. Aloes, like most succulents, are relatively drought resistant and easy to care for. Their size can vary, so try them in different pots and spaces and see what you prefer.

Try: Aloe vera


Saguaro CactusSaguaros are arguably the most recognizable of all species of cactus. What desert newcomers might not recognize are the small flowers that bloom on them. Keep in mind that Saguaros grow to be particularly large, capable of growing as tall as 70 feet, and can live up to 200 years.

Even the grandest Saguaro must start somewhere—your backyard, perhaps?


Aeonieum SucculentAeoniums have been called the most ornamental of all succulents, and are sometimes confused with Echevarias.

They are flower-like succulents, commonly colored lime green, deep purple, or green and yellow stripes.

With soft leaves, Aeoniums are safe for people with backyard pets.

Try: Aeonium “Cyclops” or Aeonium decorum “Sunburst”


Ferocactus CactusNearly 30 species fall under the genus Ferocactus, all of which are barrel-shaped. Ferocactus are popular among gardeners living in sunny, arid climates like Arizona.

Especially popular are Ferocactus wislizeni, or fishhook barrel cacti, that produce bright yellow or orange-red flowers during the summer months.

Keep the kids away from these prickly pals.

What plants are growing in your backyard? Share your backyard creativity on our Facebook page.

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