Which Plants Can I Grow in El Paso?
Are you lucky enough to be living in El Paso? If you are, you have all of the access one could want to some of the best food, natural scenery, and lively art scenes Texas has to offer! There is no shortage of fun and adventure in El Paso, no matter what piques your interest. If that interest involves a green thumb, this city is a perfect place for a beautiful variety of plants. Everything from flowers to winter vegetables can thrive here, and if you're in need of a bit of guidance, we've got you covered! Let's take a closer look at how to make your dream garden in El Paso!
Which Plants Grow Well in El Paso?
Your luck continues in terms of your growing season and climate, as El Paso is in one of the mildest and longest growing seasons in the U.S. Fruit trees and flowering plants love this temperate atmosphere with mild winters and long, sunny summers. When making plans for your growing season, never hesitate to check out one of your local parks for some inspiration and guidance to get you started. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies to more than just mechanics, and you'll find the native plants are more than happy to adopt this mantra! With a little help from you, all sorts of plants will bring vibrant colors and fragrant aromas to your home, and here are a few examples to help fuel your inspiration:
Split Leaf Philodendron (Monstera deliciosa): Or "Swiss Cheese Plant," as it's come to be known because of the notched leaves it presents, this plant is also quite photogenic with its uniquely shaped leaves and vibrant green tones! It grows quickly over large areas, preferring temperatures consistently within the 50 °F range, including shaded areas. When indoors, keep it in bright to medium indirect light for 6 hours daily. Otherwise, just give it the occasional spritz of water since it likes a humid environment.
Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis): Aloe Vera is a widely desired succulent worldwide and unique addition to any home or garden. Not only is it easy to maintain, but its medicinal properties, rich in antioxidants and antibacterial properties, are critical ingredients to many beauty and medical products.
Consulting a Farmer's Almanac before growing is never a bad idea to streamline and bulletproof your growing strategy, especially in an area with such forgiving climates as El Paso. Perfect for both warm and cold season vegetables, you'll have plenty of options, so prepare accordingly! Here are a few you'll find thrive with the right preparations:
Cold Season Veggies:
- Bolt resistant lettuce varieties
- Field peas
- Hot peppers
Warm Season Veggies:
Best Landscaping Plants in El Paso
Are fruits what you're hoping for? You'll find El Paso is the perfect place for a wide variety of them! Great additions to any garden, they also benefit the local wildlife like birds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators who rely on them as food sources. Be sure to double-check which plants are more conducive to your area, and going with something native is never a bad call. Having proven they're more than capable of surviving in the local climate, you'll also have lots of reference points with a simple look around at you at what helps others of their kind grow best. Here are just a few you can try yourself:
- Fig Trees
- Apricot Trees
- Pear Trees
- Cherry Trees
- Citrus Trees
Flowers and shrubs are also a great landscaping option. Remember that they'll need a bit more love and care from you so as to survive the hotter, sunnier summers as well as the occasional frost that comes with the territory. There's a lot to choose from, but here are a few if you need inspiration:
Santa Rita Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia violacea santa-rita): One of the most well-known cactus, the paddle-shaped leaves are recognizable instantly! It sprouts beautiful yellow flowers, and this particular variety has purple coloring to the pads, making it stand out! This purple gets more prominent during cooler months, in direct sunlight, and during drought. The purple fruits are great for birds, and the cactus itself is very frost-hardy!
Tuscan Blue Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): A fragrant addition to any garden, its gray-green and narrow leaves can grow up to 1.5" long while staying closely spaced together. White and blue flowers bloom on this herb, bringing some beautiful color to your home or garden. Not only that, but it's a great herb for cooking too, making this a wonderful, multi-purpose plant!
Gardenia Veitchii (Gardenia jasminoides 'Veitchii'): Large, white, and aromatic blooms come in the early spring from this plant, also known as Cape Jasmine. Capable of growing up to heights of 4 feet, you'll find it thrives best in full sun to partial shade. If you're planning on bringing it indoors, keep it in indirect light, and be careful to keep it on the warmer side. While it can handle a light freeze, sustained cold can lead to damage.
Which Plants are Native to El Paso?
Going with something native to the area makes your gardening life easier with readily available plants that you already know thrive in your region. Planting native is also a tremendous benefit to the local ecosystem. Native plants help prevent soil erosion and create sustainable environments for the local wildlife. Bees, hummingbirds, and more all need these plants to survive, and it may not be a bad idea to see if there are any endangered plant species in your area that you could give some help by planting a few more! Be sure to check your local area to see what works best, but here are a few ideas for Zone 8 that are proven to work well:
Texas Wisteria: Odds are you've seen this beautiful flower used at any number of weddings, and it's easy to understand why! Stunning waterfalls of blooming lavender come from this variety, and it's also known for its ability to quickly grow and climb, enhancing the cascading flowers it's known for. Just be aware that its rapid growth can choke out other plants if not monitored!
Serviceberry (Amelanchier): This plant earned its name for the timing of its blooms, which occur annually around Easter. A member of the rose family, it produces vibrant, white blooms and has an impressive height and width, sometimes reaching up to 25 and 15 feet, respectively! Not only that, but it produces edible berries and leaves that can be dried for tea!
Other Plants that Grow Best in El Paso
Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii): The bright orange flowers on this plant are sure to spice up any El Paso backyard. Hardy to freezes and hot summers, this plant will thrive in partial shade or full sun! Hummingbirds are attracted to this plant, along with butterflies and bees. If you are trying to find a plant that can brighten up your yard while helping the local pollinators, this is an amazing pick!
Ocotillo (Fouquieria Splendens): Do you live in a more drought-ridden area with drier soil? The Ocotillo is a great pick for these more difficult areas! A great option for hummingbirds as well, this plant grows green leaves on its canes, and eventually sprouts red flowers that attracts the happy pollinators! This flower is one of the most naturally common in the desert areas, meaning that migrating birds will seek them out for energy on their long journey. Put this plant in partial sun for it to grow to its full height of up to 20 feet!
Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides): As the name implies, its star-like blooms of beautiful white give this plant its name, but it's also known for its ability to climb with its evergreen vines, sometimes up to heights of 6 feet when in season! That makes this plant ideal for trellises, lattices, and railings if you have them. Bright, direct sunlight and manageable heat yield the best results, making this a perfect outdoor addition that can easily withstand winters in El Paso.
El Paso Gardening Tips
Taking a look at your local Farmer's Almanac is always an excellent way to ensure the best results for your growing season, as it will help prepare for any of the variances that can arise in a weather-dependent endeavor. El Paso falls into one of the most forgiving zones across the U.S in terms of climate, but forewarned is forearmed! Be mindful and ready for any sudden frost spells or heat waves that might adversely affect your garden and require adaptations like raised beds, cold frames, or mulch.
When Should I Plant My Garden in El Paso?
The planting season for El Paso is relatively streamlined, with an initial freeze that usually falls around November 15th, and a final freeze often around March 15th. Again, check your area's resources for more accurate dates and variances from region to region. Vegetables should start indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Also, be mindful of the opportunity afforded to you by the milder atmosphere not available to other areas across the U.S! El Paso has great opportunities for winter gardens where you can start crops like spinach or broccoli in October when the soil is still warm!
Planting in USDA Zone 8a and 8b
Zone 8 follows the same trend as all other zones on the USDA Hardiness classification and is divided into two subzones, 8a and 8b. Both Zones are distinguished by average winter temperatures, 8a with a range of 10 to 15 °F and 8b in the 15 to 20 °F range. The whole Zone is actually the most common warm Zone in the U.S, lending itself to techniques like mulching which can prolong your already considerable growing season!