Plants

What plants are best to grow during Arizona’s drought?

A recent study shows the West’s megadrought is the worst to hit in hundreds of years.

PHOENIX — One local expert thinks gardeners should consider growing more drought-tolerant plants as Arizona continues to adjust to a drier climate.

New research suggests the megadrought in the West is now the driest we’ve seen in at least 1,200 years. The drought is beating records in a way no one wants it to, and scientists said it doesn’t look like it’s ending any time soon .

A recent study from the journal Nature Climate Change found intense drying in 2021 in the West. The previous megadrought record-holder was back in the late 1500s. The study also found that 42% of the megadrought can be attributed to human-caused climate change .

Arizonans are no stranger to finding climate-friendly plants to fill outdoor living spaces. They’re small ways everyone can make a big difference to save water.

Rich Furnish, a garden advisor at Summerwinds Nursery, said there are several plants that thrive with little water in the desert.

Furnish said incorporating drought-tolerant plants can lower watering amounts by up to two-thirds, once they’re established. Some of his top recommendations for plants are firestick plant, elephant’s food, and bougainvillea.

For trees, Furnish said Palo Verdes are great for shade, mesquites also add shade and create a microclimate underneath to shield other plants from the sun, and Desert Willows are beautiful when their flowers are in bloom. Olive and Mastic trees are also on Furnish’s list .

Furnish said spring and fall are the best times of year to plant in the Valley.

RELATED: Climate change report ‘another wake-up call’ for Arizona, experts say

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