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“Why would you want to live in the desert? It’s so brown!”

“There’s no color in the desert.”

“Nothing blooms in the summer in Phoenix – it’s too hot!”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, what a bunch of baloney! The Sonoran Desert is alive with color all summer long, despite temps that can reach above 115 degrees. All sorts of trees, shrubs and cactus have showy flowers throughout June, July and August.

That’s true of any summer in Phoenix. But this summer, the summer of 2021, we’ve had the healthiest monsoon season in years. Awesome amounts of rain all through July and so far through August as well. Shrubs that have been sparse in their flowering (for example, ones that are not on irrigation), have exploded with fresh color.

I thought those of you in other parts of the country (and world) would get a kick out of seeing what a desert city in bloom looks like, so I’ve been snapping pics for the past few weeks. Some of the cactus bloomed right before the rains first started, but the rest of the plants had the benefits of the monsoons. You’ll see flowering cactus, annuals, perennials, and shrubs in the photos below. If you have specific questions about what a certain plant is, just let me know and I’ll ID it for ya.

I hope you enjoy this photo journey of rain-happy flowers in Phoenix.

Here we are at the “look at that purple shrub!” section of the post. These fall under the umbrella of the generic term “sage,” but they’re not Salvias – these are Leucophyllums. And they have been spectacular!

The sages loooove monsoon rains. For a few weeks, everywhere you looked around the city there were pops of purple, or rows of royalty, haha! Definitely a nice addition to any landscape.

The monsoons cleared out temporarily as of last night. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when we have a few days of sunshine again. I’ll be keeping an eye out for what’s blooming and take pics whenever I can.


On an unrelated note, there is a certain one of our very own Experts, a lady of charm and distinction, with superior intelligence and unmatched compassion, known far and wide as a National Treasure, aka Dottie Correll, who is turning a whopping 95 years old on Saturday. 95! She’s doing great. If you’d like to wish her a happy birthday, please do so in the comments and I’ll happily pass them along for you.

I have much affection for this container at work:

Good To Grow, Portulaca, Liza's photos

I took this photo this morning. The blanca portulaca is so pretty.

It hasn’t minded Phoenix’s triple-digit temperatures. The container gets unrelenting full sun against that hot wall.

That’s amazing, isn’t it?

 

 

For Nancy, in particular. The flowers are doing great!

Portulaca, Good To Grow, Liza's photos

The Portulaca have sailed beautifully through this Phoenix summer, which has been brutal. Triple digit temperatures for all of July and so far in August, including plenty of humidity (so you can throw that “it’s a dry heat” saying in the trash – it’s bunk during monsoon season).

My beloved Portulaca flowers have been shining stars all along. They are in containers at work that I water every other day. Unceremoniously, I might add, haha, with water in a bucket because the hose doesn’t reach.

Portulaca, Good To Grow, Liza's photos

All that color! Swoon!

The new Lemon Twist Portulaca have also done well, although the stripes aren’t quite as distinct as they were.

Portulaca, Good To Grow, Liza's photos

They’re still adorable!

 

 

Ah, June. Probably my least favorite month in Phoenix. 106 degrees today, 110 all next week. Last year, it got up to 120 degrees in June. On my thermometer outside, I remember that the red went all the way to the top and looked like it wanted to explode!

Haha, still wouldn’t trade it for humidity.

I spend every day thinking about what will grow in this type of heat. Everyone knows Vincas, of course, and sweet potato vines. But lots of plants can take the heat.

My current favorite? Portulaca. (In my head, it’s a little song, Port-u-la-CA, Port-u-la-CA.) Known as moss rose, or desert rose.

I’ve loved Portulaca for many years. Traditionally, you would have a mix, so pink flowers and yellow flowers and orange flowers – all on one plant. Lately, I’ve been using a lot of white Portulaca for borders and for spillers in certain containers. Whether it’s multi-colored or single-colored, Portulaca rarely disappoints.

So I already loved the plant, right? Then some breeders went out and made me fall in love with it all over again!!!

Look at this!

Portulaca lemon twist

How stinkin’ adorable is that flower? White with yellow stripes. I can hardly stand it!

It’s Colorblast Lemon Twist Portulaca. I ordered some 4″ plants from Armstrong Growers. It looks like BloomIQ.com patented it (maybe?).

The tag says, “Full sun. Features: Vibrant flowers bloom on ground-hugging plants with thick, succulent foliage. Tolerates heat and dry soils. Uses: Excellent as a seasonal ground cover, in rock gardens, or in containers.”

Portulaca Lemon Twist

“Grows best in full sun. Grows 4-12″ (10-30 cm) tall, space 8-10″ (20-25 cm) apart, water weekly during dry spells.”

Grows best in full sun? In Phoenix? Yes, please! I’ll take a thousand!

I planted this little cutie at work today and it made me happy for multiple reasons.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Gazania flower

For one, I’m planting flowers in late October, because that’s life in Phoenix, Arizona. Another reason is that it’s such a cheerful flower – I love Gazanias! So cute!

Also, most importantly, Gazanias remind me of mr_subjunctive at Plants Are the Strangest People, because they are the official celebratory flower of that blog. I like thinking about mr_s, and I realized it’s been too long since I blogged myself or read other people’s blogs.

So thanks, little flower, for reminding me that it feels good to share the plant love.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, more flowers, less violence

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chollo plant in red rock country

The best flowers are at the farmers’ market.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, farmers' market flowers

From the farmers’ market, that is.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, farmers' market flowers

Super pretty blooms, in late afternoon:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Caesalpinia pulcherrima

So lovely! Caesalpinia pulcherrima flowers, or Red Bird of Paradise. In Albuquerque, we have yellow ones, which are pretty, but not stunners like these.

I do have an all-new Ask the Experts Panel for you, but it’ll take me a day or two before I can have it ready to publish. So that means you still have time to guess the puzzler, in which I asked if these flowers are real or fake:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

Leave your best guess in the comments section. I’ll reveal the answer and the winners after the Experts Panel. Imaginary prizes will abound for all who play. Good luck, and thanks for playing!

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About Me

Hi! My name is Liza. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting! I'm a Midwestern gal now living in Arizona, after many years of living in and owning a plant care business in New Mexico.

Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if they're indoor plants, they are 100% dependent on human care. They cannot water themselves.

I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

Please let me know if you have questions or if you would like help with your plants or garden. You can reach me at lizatheplantlady (at) gmail (dot) com or follow me on Twitter, Lizawheeler7.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. All content is also entirely my hard work. If you'd like to use any content or photos, all you have to do is ask. If you take without asking, you are a thief. And thieves suck. So don't suck. We have a deal? Good.

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