Twice a year the Desert Botanical Garden here in Phoenix has a plant sale, where you can purchase native plants, cacti, and trees that are adapted for our Arizona desert. Last October, Nate was out-of-town and I went alone, bringing back a conservative two plants - that are still alive and well.
It's easy to go a little overboard here, everything looks lovely and appealing and small, contained. I must remember to look at how large some of these specimens will grow. Plus that I (my husband) will have to dig a hole in dirt that can be as hard as concrete for the container size, plus we'll have to somehow stretch our irrigation to water the new addition.
The smartest thing you can do is go with a plan - spaces that you'd like to fill and then ask the garden volunteers and horticulturists their advice. I can believe how knowledgable the volunteers are. I can tell you that we may have bought a couple more plants than planned for, but didn't go overboard.
When shopping for plants:
Go with a Plan, location, location, location : We have 3-4 spots to fill in our backyard and took notes on how much sun the area received
Keep space and plant growth in mind: We bought a tiny little Ocotillo stick, that can grow 10+ feet high and several feet in circumference. We made sure to plant it far enough away from the house and roof.
Access to water: In Arizona plants need a little help and you can't just put a baby bush in the ground without providing this life force.
Color: We have a bit of a purple-colbalt theme going on, not to say that we only purchase plants with purple flowers, but I kept that in mind and made the intentional decision on color. Many of the plants aren't in bloom yet and we checked the photos and online to see what colors would emerge.
The next Desert Botanical Gardens Plant Sale opens to the General Public on October 18, 2014 7am.