Arizona Landscape

How to Substitute Desert Plants for Your Favorite Flowers

Everyone has their own idea of what their dream house looks like, and while the homes may vary widely, the general consensus is that colorful flowers and bushes make the dream come true! We all imagine a yard with emerald green grass, large shade trees, and, of course, a colorful profusion of sweet-smelling flowers. It’s a beautiful picture to be sure, but we live in Arizona, and most flowers require a lot more water than our desert surroundings can afford to spare. Fortunately, there are many desert plants that can survive the scorching heat and that don’t require a major daily soaking to survive. We’ve created this list of substitutions that can give you the Arizona landscape of your dreams without wasting precious resources.

Desert Rose

 This succulent plant is designed to withstand the harshness of the summer sun without thirst, and the colorful blooms will bring a smile to your face. Resembling the shape and color of the beautiful plumeria, it is the perfect plant for container gardens or ground cover. Just be sure to cover it on the rare occasions we get frost; the desert rose does not do well under 32 degrees in temperature.


 If you’re worried that you just can’t get the same dramatic appeal in your yard that you do with the flowers from back east, let us introduce you to the bougainvillea. Designed to bloom more with less water, the blooms come in a variety of shades—magenta is the most prevalent. Resembling the dramatic beauty of an azalea, this sassy dessert plant has a bite; long, thick thorns can be painful if you’re not careful!

Texas Sage

Featuring silvery grey leaves that are beautiful on their own, and cheery purple blooms during their flowering season, the Texas sage is, in our humble opinion, the perfect desert plant, especially when you consider how much these beautiful bushes—that offer some of the same appeal as hydrangeas—are adored by the endangered honey bee. Walk by any bush when it is in full bloom and hear the bees buzzing happily and be secure in the knowledge you’re saving water AND perhaps keeping the honey bee off the extinction list!


 Good news! Many varieties of roses thrive in the desert heat, creating a romantic and aromatic garden space that will be the envy of all your neighbors. Requiring a little more water than your typical desert flower, you can still keep water usage to a minimum with a drip system; this is one case where no substitution is necessary. A little extra research will teach you which varieties work best in the desert!

Or, Leave the Planting to Us

We at New Image Landscape and Pools love to make yards pretty, and our years of experience in desert landscaping ensures your yard will be desert friendly. Give us a call today and let’s get started on your Arizona landscape backyard oasis!