By Rob Halberg

Many people not familiar with the desert southwest are not aware of the color and beauty of our desert landscape. Incredibly, even our numerous cactus varieties produce colorful flowers when in bloom. This article will focus on flowering plants that homeowners may choose to plant and enhance the color of their landscape. I have three favorites that are very hardy, fast growing and are spectacular when in bloom.

Bougainvillea: This is a vine species that produces bright pink, purple and other colorful flowers. It can grow from 3’ to 10’ or more during the summer. While freezing weather may damage the plant, we have not experienced any weather of this kind, even though we live in Vail. Our plants are a little protected with the wall (see picture), but they simply grow like weeds requiring almost no care. Just prior to the winter, we cut the plant to about a two foot stump and they come back stronger every year.

Texas Sage: Also known as a Texas Ranger, this bush does very well in the Tucson climate. Native to the Chihuahuan Desert, it can grow up to six feet tall and has beautiful purple flowers. Texas Sage easily handles the full sun and can survive long periods of drought once established.

Mexican Bird of Paradise: This plant produces bright orange and yellow flowers throughout the warm season. Once mature, it can grow to 8’ or more, tall and wide. It is a hardy desert plant that thrives in full sun and requires very little water while blooming, but none at all during other times.

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