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The Best Low-Water Plants for Arid US Cities


As many US cities face water shortages and drought conditions, gardening with low-water plants becomes more of a necessity. Urban gardeners in cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and El Paso can benefit significantly from choosing the right trees, shrubs, and flowers that require minimal watering. This blog post will guide you through the best low-water plants for these cities, helping you create a sustainable and beautiful garden with minimal water use.

Best Trees for Low-Water Urban Gardens

1. Mesquite (Prosopis spp.)

  • Location: Phoenix, Las Vegas
  • Benefits: Mesquite trees are not only drought-resistant but also offer a beautiful canopy and sweet pods that can be ground into flour.

2. Palo Verde (Parkinsonia florida)

  • Location: Phoenix, Tucson
  • Benefits: Known for its stunning yellow blooms, the Palo Verde is Arizona’s state tree and thrives in dry conditions, requiring very little water once established.

3. Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)

  • Location: Las Vegas, El Paso
  • Benefits: This tree offers lovely pink to lavender flowers and is excellent for attracting hummingbirds. It grows quickly and needs minimal watering.

Best Shrubs for Low-Water Urban Gardens

1. Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)

  • Location: Los Angeles, Las Vegas
  • Benefits: Sagebrush is perfect for a low-water garden, offering a silvery-green aesthetic and requiring very little maintenance.

2. Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum frutescens)

  • Location: El Paso, Phoenix
  • Benefits: With its stunning silver foliage and purple flowers, Texas Ranger blooms after summer showers and thrives in hot, sunny environments.

3. Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata)

  • Location: Las Vegas, Phoenix
  • Benefits: Extremely drought-tolerant, this shrub is known for its resilience and unique smell after rain, making it a staple in arid landscapes.

Best Flowers for Low-Water Urban Gardens

1. California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

  • Location: Los Angeles, San Diego
  • Benefits: California’s state flower, this poppy thrives in dry, sunny spots and adds vibrant color with minimal effort.

2. Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera)

  • Location: El Paso, Phoenix
  • Benefits: Named for its unique shape, this flower stands up well to drought and heat, requiring little water while providing striking red and yellow blooms.

3. Lavender (Lavandula spp.)

  • Location: Los Angeles, Las Vegas
  • Benefits: Lavender not only survives with little water but also offers wonderful fragrance and is beneficial for attracting pollinators like bees.


Gardening in cities with limited natural water resources challenges urban gardeners to think differently about plant choices. By selecting trees, shrubs, and flowers that require less water, residents of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, among others, can enjoy vibrant, sustainable gardens that contribute to water conservation efforts. These plants not only survive but thrive in arid conditions, making them perfect for low-maintenance urban green spaces. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, incorporating these low-water plants into your garden can help you create an eco-friendly oasis in the heart of the city.

Posted on March 4, 2024

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