In Tucson, it’s natural to associate blooming flowers with our cacti that bloom abundantly in spring, but you can enjoy blooming flowers in the cooler winter months, too! Although the days are shorter, there is still plenty of sunshine available for winter-ready plants to enjoy. Our florists at Casas Adobes Flower Shop have put together a list of our top five favorite plants to grow and enjoy during winter.
Top Five Winter Plants for Tucson
Thanks to its bright-red blooms and exuberant, lily-like beauty, the amaryllis is a holiday season favorite. Regardless of when an amaryllis bulb is planted, it will bloom about six to eight weeks after. So, they can be easily timed to bloom during the winter. They prefer well-draining soil, indirect sunlight, and regular watering once sprouted.
Like many other plants, amaryllis is toxic to pets and humans. Although not as potent as its lily cousins, the toxins in the amaryllis plant can cause serious symptoms. It’s best to display them out of the reach of small children and animals.
2. Christmas Cactus
The Christmas cactus is always a seasonal favorite. These lovely cacti feature delicate, tubular flowers that bloom in a variety of shades of pink, red, orange, and white. They get their name because they bloom at Christmas time. Two other varieties of this cactus bloom close to Thanksgiving and close to Easter. Although they feature slightly different leaf segments, these plants all look quite similar. Many of the Christmas cacti you’ll find in stores are actually Thanksgiving cacti. If you notice your plant blooming a little too early, it’s likely a Thanksgiving cactus and not a true Christmas cactus.
Although the Christmas cactus is technically a cactus that features water-storing, succulent-like leaf segments, these plants do not tolerate drought as readily as other cacti. They’re native to humid forests of Brazil, where they grow from the bark of trees like orchids and bromeliads. Planted in an outdoor or indoor garden in Tucson, a Christmas cactus will survive, but it will definitely require more frequent watering than your other cacti and succulents. They like plenty of filtered sunlight, well-draining soil, and frequent watering.
Kalanchoes are one of our winter favorites because they feature cheerful clusters of vibrantly colored blooms in a range of pinks, oranges, yellows, reds, and white. Their bright flowers add a bit of zing to an otherwise drab winter. Plus, their blooms last for months, and their green leaves are pretty even when the plant isn’t in bloom.
A type of succulent, kalanchoe plants do extremely well indoors and outdoors in Tucson. They need plenty of sunlight, potting mix formulated for cacti, and water only when the soil has become completely dry.
Paperwhites are a type of narcissus that feature bunches of lovely snow-white winter blooms atop hardy green stalks. They’re perfect for decorating for the holiday season and relatively easy to care for. They prefer regular watering and well-draining soil. They can also be grown outdoors if bulbs are put in soil in late spring or early fall. They won’t tolerate a frost and will require plenty of water when growing under the desert sun.
This plant is a holiday classic that will bloom and feature brightly colored bracts (leaves) when the plant is in the dark for 12 to 14 hours every day. While you’re likely most familiar with the white and red varieties of poinsettia that are available during the holidays, the plants also come in yellows, oranges, reds, pinks, and purples.
Winter Plants for Tucson’s Hardiness Zone 9
It usually doesn’t get too cold here, in Southern Arizona. But when we do get hard freezes, bringing your plants indoors is always wise. If you have plants rooted in your outdoor garden, you can also cover them up with an old sheet to protect them from the frost.
In our zone (9), during the winter months, we offer amaryllis, Christmas Cactus, kalanchoes, and sometimes paperwhites, but plenty of plants can thrive in our climate. Due to our mild winters, some blooming favorites like petunias, geraniums, and pansies can be successfully grown.
To minimize the care your plants need, however, we recommend planting your outdoor gardens with plants that are native to our Sonoran Desert — unless you want to bring in different soils, create shade, and provide plenty of extra water. Native plants include plenty of cacti, succulents, and even some hardy trees.
When it comes to indoor gardens, it’s easy to grow lots of different plants in Tucson because you can more easily control their climate. It’s easiest to grow plants that prefer low humidity and lots of sunshine.
For more information about plants that bloom in the winter and which ones will do best in your home or garden, we welcome you to contact our florists at Casas Adobes Flower Shop for personalized recommendations and growing advice.