Phoenix natives usually stick to xeriscaping and cactus gardens when it comes to outdoor gardening, but coastal transplants are determined to grow azaleas and roses that feel like home.
Can you grow an East Coast garden in the desert? Yes, says gardening professional Gary "Curly" Smith of Summer Winds Nursery in Mesa. But not every plant will thrive here.
"Azaleas fry, gardenias wilt, and I've never been able to grow a camellia successfully here except in the house," Smith says.
As for other plants, you don't have to spend a fortune on expensive fertilizers and soil additives to make your little green friends thrive. Place shell pieces collected from beach trips in the soil to strengthen a plant's root system. Epsom salts purchased for a couple bucks at the pharmacy will increase your rose plant's yield of blossoms. Recycle used coffee grounds as an earth-friendly soil additive.
"Coffee is acidic, and our soil is extremely alkaline," says Smith. "It won't cure the problem, but it will help."
Summer Winds Nursery
3160 South Country Club Drive, Mesa
Elgin Nursery and Tree Farm
8606 West McDowell Road, Phoenix
4647 East Camelback Road, Phoenix
Garden Territory at The Farm at South Mountain
6106 South 32nd Street, Phoenix