Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Those gardeners in warm climates can choose from many companion plants for their desert cacti and succulents. Here are some suggested plants that can tolerate hot, dry conditions.
Hardy to zone eight or so, this small tree is generally ten to 12 feet in height. But, it can reach 30 feet under good growing conditions. Strawberry-tree is relatively slow growing.
There are numerous species of these evergreen Mediterranean natives. They’re hardy to zone seven or eight. The height can vary according to the species, but they’re generally three to seven feet in height. Very free flowering, these are named for the beautiful flowers. The flower colors range from white to red.
The pistachios are sturdy trees that can tolerate drought and heat. The hardiness can vary somewhat. The Chinese one is hardy to zone six or so, while the terebinth is less hardy, only to zone nine. There are several species in cultivation. The one most commonly grown reaches about 30 feet in height. Improved grafted varieties are available. The Chinese pistachio and terebinth are the two species that are that are commonly used as ornamentals.
Olive trees are considered to be among the most drought resistant trees you can choose. Reaching about 25 to 30 feet in height, this is hardy to zone eight. An evergreen, it tends to grow rather slowly. Grafted trees are available. These are adapted to poor soils.
Hardy to zone eight, this is a native of the Mediterranean region. It can reach ten feet in height. A durable and adaptable plant, it can be sheared and shaped as desired. It is a good choice for hedges.
This evergreen is prized not only for its beauty but for its literary associations Myrtle was a favorite plant among the ancients. Tolerant of salt-spray, this is a valuable ornamental. A number of cultivars are available.
New Zealand flax or Phormium
The New Zealand flax and the related phormiums are valuable perennials in warm climates. Related to the agaves, there are a number of species in cultivation. These are often used as annuals and tender perennials in colder regions of the country. The ones with brightly colored foliage are especially popular.
Some species reach six to 12 feet in height though the ones grown as annual pot plants are much smaller. These are hardy to zone nine or so. The large leaves can be five to nine feet in length. The commonly grown ones generally have smaller foliage. The leaves are narrow, and look very much like those of the yuccas and agaves. Many newer forms have bright, variegated leaves.