Maricopa Nursery owner Agnes Gabica is one of the go-to plant suppliers in Maricopa and has her green thumb on the pulse of the latest gardening trends in Arizona. Many of these trends revolve around the Southwestern desert climate in Pinal County, but some are also national trends that reflect the modern ways people want to grow.
1. Low-maintenance plants/evergreen
A long-standing trend in gardening is low-maintenance plants. Many people who enjoy a beautiful garden can’t put in the time watering or trimming their plants every day and instead are growing plants that don’t have a steep learning curve on maintenance.
“Most customers — they don’t want to do any training, because that’s another added expense,” Gabica said.
Low-maintenance can also apply to how often the plant itself dies off. Some plants are evergreen and thrive year round, while others are annual and die off after a single season. These are more tedious because they require frequent replacing.
“Some plants that are available in the store are actually annual plants,” Gabica said. “Then when the season’s over, they think the plants are dead.”
Even some local Arizona plants have shorter life spans. The agave can flower anywhere from five to 50 years after being planted, and it does so in a glorious large stalk. However, once it blooms it will slowly begin to die.
2. Cacti & succulents
Cacti and succulents are a popular trend that goes hand-in-hand with people’s desire for low-maintenance, attractive desert landscaping. These plants fit right in with traditional desert landscaping and grow slowly. Gabica says that, though they may not be as traditionally attractive as a rose, they are just as beautiful when they bloom.
“I think the cactus flowers really attract me,” Gabica said.
3. Gardening sustainably
Gardening sustainably is a national trend born from climate change and the desire to cut back on finite water resources. Especially in a dry state like Arizona, watching water usage is a must and water-guzzling plants need to go.
This is in line with guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which recommends planting native plants that require little water beyond normal rainfall.
According to EPA, more than 8.5 billion gallons of water is used outdoors every year, with each home in America consuming 58,000 gallons of water — mostly for irrigation and landscaping. That is approximately 30% of annual household water usage and, in dry climates, that number can rise as high as 60%.
While thirsty plants are out, dry riverbeds are in. Riverbeds can draw the eye to a yard and create a pretty focal point. They are also great for drainage use in times of flooding as they divert water from the yard easily. Some landscapers go for a traditional rounded river rock look, while others go for a more jagged, natural red rock.
Gabica has been commissioned for a few different riverbeds in the last year or two, and some even have water sprinklers to provide the ambiance of running water without wasting water. She also adds some small boulders to create a natural look.
5. Container gardens
Container gardens are a great way to achieve lots of variety and color with not a whole lot of space to work with. Try it with a large, medium or small pot and toss some flowers in like lavender, add a couple succulents and watch them begin to take over their potted real estate quickly.
“I just love that they’re so wild,” said one client of Gabica’s container gardens.
Container gardens like this quickly create a lush mini garden and attract pollinators to the yard. Other uses for a multiplant pot could be a windowsill herb garden or edible flower patch.