Hardy Cactus Indigenous to the Desert Southwest
These are pictures of desert plants that actually thrive in Phoenix, they require little water, can be planted in full sun, and not only survive, but flourish in extreme temperatures.
The ocitillo is beautiful and does quite well with rainfall as its only source of water after established.
I have an ocitillo and completely ignore it, no water, no trimming, and it blesses me with beautiful red flowers year after year.
It goes through weird dormant phases when it loses it’s leaves and looks dead, but don’t be fooled, it comes back in full color.
They can make a beautiful privacy fence, and also are a good source of security as they are quite thorny.
The Golden Barrel Cactus doesn’t need to be watered at all unless there is a severe drought.
They are slow growers so make sure you buy one that is a pleasing size.
Avoid greenhouse cactus as they are not acclimated. How can you tell? Nurseries keep greenhouse grown cactus under sun shades, buy only cactus that are in direct sun.
The Desert Southwest Barrel Cactus is very hardy and also requires nothing more that someone to admire its beauty.
You can always put a low decorative fence around cactus to prevent injury to your house pets.
Never plant cactus in grassy areas where they might be exposed to sprinkler systems. They like a rocky terrain that provides good drainage.
No special sand or dirt is required when planting, I just dig a hole and drop it in, easy!
The cholla is my least favorite because its rather difficult to handle. You don’t want to get pricked by one of these cacti! However, an excellent cactus to plant under windows as nobody would ever consider breaking into a house that was guarded by a cholla.
They are somewhat messy, so be careful and use a rake around them for clean up so you don’t accidentally bump into one.
They grow rather quickly, so make sure there is ample space for them.
* The cholla is not a good choice around pets or children.
I have a cholla in my front yard at the edge of my property line, it was a mere 4 inches tall when I planted it. Four years later it’s 3 ft wide and 3 ft high.
The Prickly Pear comes in many varieties, all are a great choice for a desert scape. They are fast growers, require no maintenance, and also a good choice under windows as a security measure.
The Agave is my personal favorite. There are many varieties and it doesn’t matter which one you plant, they are all tolerant to drought and excessive heat.
They require some maintenance because they will spread quickly. But the offspring are easy to dig up and replant with excellent results.
The mighty Saguaro is easy to grow, however it might take a lifetime to notice it. Slow, slow, slow growers but I still like to include them just because they are the icon of Phoenix.
The organ Pipe is a magnificent specimen of cacti and most definitely will proudly add distinction to any desert scape.
They are readily available, easy to plant, and can survive solely on rainfall after established.