The Q&A Archives: Hot Southwest

Question: Please suggest low water use plants (other than cacti) that will do well in hot, dry Albuquerque.

Answer: Look for native and desert adapted plants which have evolved in your climate. Once established, except during times of drought, they should be fine with only minimal supplemental water. Since we tend to group plants more closely in our landscapes than they would be found in the wild, and because our communities tend to be warmer than the native desert, even native plants will benefit from some irrigation.<br><br>In addition to requiring less water, fertilizer, and pest management than imported plants, natives and desert adapted plants will provide better food and habitat for wildlife.<br><br>Some of my favorites include:<br>Trees<br>Cascalote (fabulous yellow flowers all winter), Acacias (great bird habitat), Texas Ebony (wonderful, dark, rich, green leaves and big velvety brown pods.<br><br>Shrubs<br>Bush Morning Glory (big white flowers), Fairy Duster (great for hummingbirds), Brittle Bush (bright yellow flowers and lots of seeds for birds), and Salvias (a variety of shapes, sizes, and fragrances)<br><br><br>The New Mexico Native Plant Society has a fine web site with useful information and suggestions for plant selection.<br><br><br>You may also want to visit the "Low Water Use and Drought Tolerant Plant List" produced by the Office of Arid Land Studies. They have organized their list of recommended plants by type (tree, shrub, vine, ground cover, etc.)<br><br><br>Good Luck!

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