Tropical Gardens in your Tucson Desert Home


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A Display Rack for Tropical Plants
  • The Potted Desert
  • A Display Rack for Tropical Plants

Living in the desert, we are able to stretch our plant choices a further than other areas of Arizona, as long as we can provide most of the plants with heavily filtered sun or afternoon shade.

The south side of my home is shaded by my neighbors towering oleanders. This is really the walkway to the back yard but I was able to transition the 8 foot wide side yard into a mini oasis which tends to be about 10 degrees cooler than other areas of my landscape. One side gets mostly shade all day long and the side along the house gets heavy sun making it the more challenging area. This area is therefore also protected from some of our lighter freezes.

Many plants that we have come to know as ‘house plants” are actually tropical plants that cannot survive the cold temperatures that most of the United States experiences. We are familiar with names like Pothos, Dracaena, Philodendrum and other common house plants. In full shade and with cold protection when the temperatures go below 40, these are tropical wonders for our patio oasis. However, once temps plummet below freezing, you will want to take the plants inside your home or Arizona room.

Plants that will tolerate more sun (but still will want afternoon shade most of the year are the Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus, Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta), Day Lilies offer clumps of arching sword-like leaves and can be evergreen, semi evergreen or deciduous depending on the species, Agapanthus, Butterfly Iris, Cordyline and Coleus.

Full sun plants include many of our Palm trees, the entire Yucca family, many of which are very tropical in appearance and many broad leafed agaves.

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Marylee is the founder and former owner of Tucson’s The Contained Gardener. With more than 15 years of successfully designing and growing potted gardens in the desert’s challenging and oftentimes harsh climate, Marylee has become known as the Desert’s Potted Garden Expert. Marylee is available for in-home or digital consultations and you can always email her with your questions and comments. Follow The Potted Desert on Facebook! Marylee is also available for business growth counseling (link to


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